Sports massage is a crucial aspect of training for professional athletes, as it can help to prevent injury, relieve aches and pains and maintain high performance. However, many amateur runners who rack up hundreds of kilometers per year are increasingly turning to sports massage, too. With the cost of a good quality sports massage being about $50, it can soon become an expensive treatment, so is it really necessary for amateur runners?
The benefits of sports massage
Sports massage increases blood circulation throughout muscles in order to improve flexibility and increase the ability of fluids and nutrients to flow through the tissues. As such, it helps to increase oxygen flow to muscles to allow them to recover faster and removes waste products such as lactic acid. Regular sports massage can therefore help muscles remain healthy and elastic to reduce the risk of strains and injury, and it can break down scar tissue from previous injuries to prevent stiffness and pain. It allows you to continue to perform at your best and can even help you to improve your performance.
Although you may not be running in a competitive environment, you may still wish to maintain and improve your performance in order to continue beating your own PB, and sports massage may help you to achieve it. Furthermore, by keeping your muscles healthy, you can ensure you have many years of healthy running ahead of you with reduced risk of injury.
Despite these benefits, many people choose not to have regular sports massage due to expense or lack of time. Providing that you warm your muscles up properly before each run and perform adequate stretching and cooling down afterwards, you may be able to keep your muscles in good health and continue running without any ill-effects. However, if you run on a regular basis, it is likely that your muscles could do with a deeper stretch every few months.
It is possible to self massage or have a friend or spouse provide sports massage at home, providing that you undertake some research to understand how to do it properly. The key is to gently build up pressure by leaning into the muscles with the weight of the body, rather than applying intense pressure in small areas. It is important that you understand the basic muscles groups in the area that you are working on, so spend time studying some anatomical diagrams. Use a small amount of oil to help the hands glide over the skin, and spend plenty of time gently massaging the area in order to warm the muscles up before applying heavier pressure; this allows deeper penetration into the tissues.
Alternatively, you can self massage using a firm rubber ball on the areas of muscle where you experience pain. Gently roll your body over the ball against the floor or a wall in circular motions to relieve knots and tension. You can find suitable massage balls at sports retailers; it should be firm enough to apply pressure deep into the muscle, yet soft enough on the outside that it won't pinch the skin or cause pain over joints or bony areas.
Always make time to stretch
Overall, whilst it's not absolutely necessary for amateur runners to have regular sports massage, deep stretching of the muscles can be incredibly beneficial and can significantly reduce the risk of injury. If professional massage isn't for you, it is advisable to find some other form of massage technique that suits you to ensure your body stays healthy for years to come.
For more information, contact a local clinic that offers sports massage, like Success Chiropractic.