Marathon Runners Benefit From Massage Therapy

Brianna Clark
March 18, 2018

How to Increase Performance
During Marathon Training

As a marathon runner, preparing to race is no easy feat. Months of preparation go into a marathon running training program. Not only is physical stamina required to get you across that finish line, but also consistent mental stamina. The last thing marathon runners need holding them back is a limiting and painful injury.

A sports injury inhibits performance and cuts into valuable training days. A flare-up during your event could result in a significant loss in time – or worse, having to drop out of the race. I’ve met A LOT of marathon runners, and every single one of them has told me about how frustrating it can be to have an injury holding them back. It’s always a constant battle to keep themselves healthy and performing at peak levels.

As such, every marathon runner should be incorporating massage therapy into their training program. As The Pacific College of Oriental Medicine points out, “Massage has become a necessary ingredient for an athlete to help avoid sports injuries and for optimum performance. “Massage for sports injuries not only concentrates on sports injuries that have occurred but can also help prevent injuries” So, let’s learn more about how massage therapy can help you to be the best marathon runner possible.

What Does Massage Therapy do for Athletes?

Various massage therapy techniques can be used to increase flexibility and range of motion in muscles resulting in fewer strains and pulls. Think of your muscles like a rubber band. You need them to be able to stretch and move freely without snapping. If your muscles are tight and rigid, they’re more likely to suffer injuries (or complete failures in the form of muscle tears).

Regular massage also allows your muscles to recover faster by helping to improve blood flow to the muscle tissues. This helps marathon runners as it means less downtime (and less soreness) between marathon events and training sessions.

Familiar with DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness)? DOMS occurs after intensive training or athletic events. It's muscle soreness that’s caused by a combination of the build-up of metabolic wastes that are produced during high-intensity activities, and minor (micro) damages to the muscles and the subsequent inflammation response of the body. Massage therapy can help with DOMS by helping to remove the built-up metabolic wastes and by improving blood flow to the damaged muscle tissues (which will help to speed up muscle recovery and healing).

running injury massage

Focuses of Sports Massage for Marathon Runners

Patellar (knee cap) Tracking

Massage therapy can also help with poor body mechanics. One example of this that’s relevant to marathon runners is patella (kneecap) tracking. If the patella isn’t sliding correctly over the underlying tissues and bone, pain  and inflammation will result. By freeing up the tissues via massage therapy that encapsulates the patella, it will help to promote proper patella tracking and reduce patellar pain.

IT Band Function

In marathon runners, the iliotibial band (IT band) has a tendency to adhere to neighboring tissues (primarily the lateral quadricep muscle). Adhesions of these tissues can limit range of motion, alter run gait mechanics and cause pain. Massage therapy can help to break up these adhesions and make sure that you have proper mobility and movement mechanics of the IT band.

Shin Splints

Have you ever had shin splints? If so, then you know how agonizing they can be. Shin splints are characterized by a general pain on the front side of the lower leg, and are typically caused by the micro-tearing of the muscle (anterior tibialis) from the tibia bone (shin bone). This is usually caused by an imbalance between the calf muscles and the muscles in the front of your leg, and often afflicts beginners who either have not yet adjusted to the stresses of running, or are not stretching enough. They can even occur after switching running surfaces (such as going from a treadmill to running on the concrete sidewalk) or when switching shoes. Massage therapy can help to correct the muscle imbalances that contribute to shin splints and reduce shin splint pain.

One Other Thing: Kinesio Tape (K-Tape)

In addition to massage therapy, K-taping is a great supplemental tool that can help marathon runners. K-tape helps to speed up recovery time and increases the body’s ability to perform.

The therapists here at The Anatomy of Wellness are your Rock Tape Certified professionals here in the Salt Lake City area. We take a unique approach with K-tape that combines taping with massage therapy. This combined approach is the best way to get the best and fastest results. Book a massage therapy appointment with us today and add K-taping to your appointment to experience this for yourself.

Also: watch this video to learn more about how K-tape tape can help you!

picture of person with kinesio taping

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