Everyone loves a great massage but when you are an athlete it is an essential part of your training program. The benefits of massage are endless for everyone and for the athlete it can be an important part of your recovery and help you remain injury free. One of the main benefits of massage is increased circulation and this benefit can be good for athletes and non-athletes. Improved circulation will help bring valuable nutrients and oxygen to tissues. The typical triathlete or runner does an activity that causes repetitive stress to the body and each person responds to the stress in different ways. Some people get tight calves, some get tight hips, others may be impacted in the shoulder area. Typically an athlete will have areas that the tissue has been shortened and it can cause pain and discomfort, which can also cause a decrease in their performance. One goal of massage is to lengthen the shortened tissue and a good example of shortened tissue is on the side of the leg, an area called the IT Band. In runners and cyclists it is very common to have shortened tissue in this area. If this is not addressed it can cause a variety of problems from the hip to the knee area. Many runners and triathletes are medially rotated at the shoulders and this can be partially caused from shortened chest muscles. This can cause headaches and pain in the shoulder, upper back, and neck area.
In a perfect world one massage a week would be great and for an athlete a deep tissue massage is usually what is best. It would be best to schedule a massage on a day off from training. A massage once a week is not financially an option for most people. If you can afford a massage a week then it’s probably hard to find time to work it in your busy schedule. More realistic for most people is a massage every other week or once a month. It is best to schedule a deep tissue massage on a day off from training or on a light day of training. It is also a good idea not to have really hard workouts the day before or after a deep massage. You could however get a very light massage with a lot of stretching after a tough workout. The light massage will increase circulation and the stretching will help with recovery from your workout. If you are planning to get a deep tissue massage before a race it is advisable to do it at least 3-4 days before the race. If you get massages every two weeks or once a month then make sure in between massages you are stretching and using the foam roll on a regular basis.
Massage can be a valuable part of your training program. Make sure find someone who specializes in massaging athletes and does deep tissue preferably with some stretching. If done on a regular basis it will make a difference in your training, racing and recovery.
In the next blog post we will talk about some of the different types of massage.