Can a massage make you a better ultra runner?

  • Heck yes!  Getting a massage will make you more flexible, more happy and keep you injury free
  • The benefits of massage are cumulative, meaning the more you do it, the better your body will respond; a great excuse to go often
  • There are plenty of clean, inexpensive facilities where you can sign up for a recurring massage – just think of it like getting a regular tune-up

I’ve always been pro-massage. After an hour or so of just lying on a warm, comfortable table and having a talented therapist loosen up my muscles and joints, I always feel like a million bucks.  However, massages were infrequent “treats”, one of those luxuries that were only appropriate during idyllic vacation moments – you know, overlooking picture-perfect Hawaiian waters with the sounds of ocean surf and slack-key music gently mixing in the background.

When I started running ultras and doing some research on best practices, the benefits of massage became clear.

Whenever we run long distances, that repetitive muscle contraction eventually makes our muscles shorter (ah – that’s why I can’t pull my socks on anymore!) – a problem that is exacerbated when you start building up to the high mileage during ultra training.  It doesn’t help when you don’t stretch as much as you should either.  When your muscles can’t do their job properly, the first thing to happen is that you’ll get slower – your energy production system isn’t working efficiently anymore.  But even worse, limited or incongruous muscle extensions might even change your gait, opening you up to all kinds of injuries that could sideline your training.  Ugh.

cta-massageSo about a year ago I started going every other week to a local massage place.  It took 3-4 visits before I finally got paired with Elora, a therapist who truly understood my running goals and the type of the stress I was putting on my body.  “Oh, you’re one those runners,” she said, giving me a look that said she knew she had her work cut out for her.

We started by discussing my body, my level of training and any issues I was having.  She took notes.  And then we started – slowly.  After few slightly painful weeks of getting my limbs adjusted back to their natural position, it was awesome.  I didn’t realize how out of “true” everything was until it got back to normal.  She also gave me some homework – pre/post exercise stretches – and some ideas about yoga.

sports-massageSince then, I never miss an appointment. Elora knows my body, so she is able to give me a “report” after each session – areas of tightness, potential issues of imbalance or overcompensation. I have no doubt that consistent massage, as part of an overall flexibility program, has helped to keeping me (fairly) injury free for the past year, despite racking up some hefty mileage.

Look – if you’re serious about staying in top condition during your ultra training, you must incorporate massage.  It’s easy to do. It’s cheap.  And it will keep that incredible endurance machine of yours running both efficiently and effectively.

Here are a few articles on the benefits of massage:

Runner’s World

Competitor.com

A good thing to read before your first visit: Momentum Sports

 

 

Author: troy figgins

Ultra-runner, ketogenic enthusiast, experiment of one. Like you, I'm just an ordinary person trying to figure out how to do extraordinary things.

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