Runners taking part in mass marathon event Photo by Miguel A. Amutio on Unsplash

Can sports massage help your marathon training?

As I type this, it’s the day of the London Marathon 2022 ballot results! Around the UK, tens of thousands of people are impatiently refreshing their email inboxes, or possibly posting screenshots of their acceptance or rejection (me too!) messages to their social media. Some will be looking into charity places, and others will be weighing up the virtual option.

Once the excitement dies down, it’s time to start thinking about training. And once you’ve perused all that Google has to offer (about 3,170,000,000 results for ‘marathon training plan’, maybe grab a cuppa first…!), it’s time to get started. You’ll be running a lot of miles, and hopefully fitting some strength training in along the way too. You’ll probably be thinking hard about your nutrition, perhaps wondering if it’s time for some new trainers too. But are you missing a trick - have you thought about making sports massage part of your training?

Sports massage for marathon training

Many people wait to develop a problem before they book in for a massage. Busy lives; lots to do - taking an hour out for a massage might not feel like a great use of time when you could be out there running. But sports massage isn’t just something to be saved for when you develop a niggle! Maintenance massages can form a big part of your training, helping to stave off niggles before they start, keeping you running and your training going smoothly. For most of us, training for a marathon involves a big increase in the distances that we run, and even when the distance increases relatively gradually, it’s still hard work. Your muscles will be tired, and that is when niggles and tight spots can start to develop. So here’s how massage can help:

  1. Increased circulation. This helps to carry metabolic waste products away from your tired muscles.
  2. Relief of tension - long, flowing strokes (known as effleurage) are a great way to relieve tension without disrupting your muscle fibres. A massage using plenty of effleurage is great in the days just before your marathon, or to help you recover afterwards.
  3. Massage enhances tissue permeability, allowing oxygen and nutrients to reach the muscles more quickly, and waste products to leave.
  4. Some studies suggest that massage can improve the functionality of scar tissue, encouraging it to behave more like normal tissue.
  5. Maintenance massages are a great way to identify and relieve tight spots in the muscles before they become a problem.
  6. The deeper pressure of a sports massage can reach muscles that are hard to get to with a foam roller.
  7. You get a break! There are real psychological benefits to stopping and relaxing, especially during marathon training, which is a real challenge, especially if you’re trying to fit it around family, relationships and jobs. 
  8. A lighter, pre-event massage the day before the event might really help your performance, and a post-event massage in the days after can have benefits for your recovery.

Author Hannah Tabram. Category Blog. First published Mon, 14 Mar 2022 11:49:22 +0000