Sports massage can make a real difference when preparing to run a marathon as well as recovering!

Elly Nashat, one of our great sports and deep tissue massage therapists writes:

“If you were one of the thousands running or walking through the streets of Bristol and Bath in the new Bristol-Bath Marathon last weekend, well done!

Undoubtedly, an enormous amount of time, energy, and old fashioned grit and determination was invested in each and every step taken along the route.

What makes these events particularly special in my opinion, is the opportunity for anyone who fancies a challenge or has a cause they would like to champion, to run alongside some of the world’s elite long distance runners, and share in exactly the same experience on the day.runnerbackHowever, I wonder how many of you are fully aware of the consequences of placing such demands on your body, and more over, how many would be seeking help in their recovery.  Despite long distance running appearing to be an individual sport, ask any elite athlete about their preparation and training regime, and I guarantee they will name an army of coaches, sports nutritionists, physiotherapists and sports therapists who play an integral part in their success on a daily basis.  Mo Farah, says:

“I get massaged by physios all the time, it’s so important when you’ve put your body through hard work.”

Similarly, Paula Radcliffe is another example of an elite athlete who regularly found herself on the sports therapist couch throughout her career.  With the constant demands she placed on her muscles and tissues, she reports having daily Sports massage therapy sessions to keep them in optimum condition, allowing her to repeatedly train and compete at a high level.

Sports massage, is regularly used as a tool for athletes of every level in their training, providing a myriad of benefits; including increased performance potential, speeding recovery time, and reducing the prevalence of injuries.  I see a broad spectrum of clients at C1, including elite marathon runners, cyclists, dancers, rowers and martial arts experts; some with niggles or injuries they’re recovering from but many who are maintaining their muscle condition between events.

New research has shown that sports massage can reduce muscle soreness by as much as 30% (source quote: Runners World).  As one client, who runs marathons regularly, recently put it:

“I wouldn’t dream of not preparing to make a presentation, and I’ve come to realise that I need to treat my pre-event preparation and care post event in the same way.  Since coming to receive regular sports massage I’ve noticed an improvement in my flexibility, reduced soreness and even run a PB.”

However you don’t have to be an elite athlete or even a sports person at all, to benefit from sports massage physiologically, psychologically and physically.  A large proportion of people I see are in fact suffering with neck and back pain resulting from postural adaptations, or repetitive strain from extended periods sitting at a computer, long journeys driving, and even overuse injuries resulting from a weekend gardening or DIY!

It is also not unusual to find that many sufferers of tight neck and shoulder muscles, also share a number of common lifestyle factors that are nothing to do with sport; such as age, stress, inadequate rest and overexertion.  The daily stresses of life alone, can often mean that we place a variety of postural (physical) and mental (psychological) demands on ourselves that we often fail to recognise as limiting, until we experience what appears to be the only thing individuals respond to…pain!

So what can we do to help?

A study a few years ago (Science Daily July 11, 2011), showed that massage therapy recipients exhibited fewer tension headaches and better sleep quality during weeks they received massage, and the three weeks following, than did participants that did not receive massage therapy.  Another study found that in adults with migraine headaches, massage therapy decreased the occurrence of headaches, sleep disturbances and distress symptoms.  It also increased serotonin levels, believed to play an important role in the regulation of mood, sleep and appetite.

So, in addition to these physical improvements, massage can also benefit the recipient psychologically.  As well as stimulating the release of serotonin, it also stimulates the brain to release endorphins, the body’s own pain blockers, alleviating the symptoms of pain and discomfort.

So if anything above sounds familiar, then don’t let it continue.

If you are inactive, but suffering with neck/back/shoulder pain, or regular headaches, check out your posture, and assess your lifestyle, as you may be suffering unnecessarily and it might be easy to rectify with good stretching and massage.

If you do enjoy placing physical demands on your body, perhaps running the local 5k/10k/half marathon, or cycling 100k for charity, I’m sure you wouldn’t do so without training before hand, so think about how you treat yourself after the event.  These days sports massage is not solely for the elite athlete, but should be considered by everyone as an integral part of your training.

I look forward to helping you on you road to recovery soon! “

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