Many of us run for various reasons, be it fitness, enjoyment, or the challenge of completing a Marathon event.

Running has many positive benefits in helping with weight loss, fitness and simply escaping from the rat race.  Although running has these benefits, it is also important to be aware of the effects running can have on the body and more importantly the legs if you don’t warm up and cool down properly, stretch regularly and have regular sports massage.

The legs are placed under large forces when running and these are primarily at the strike phase of your running gait.  When the foot strikes the ground as you are running along, you are exerting up to 3 times your body weight in forces through your legs and body.  It is these forces which have the potential to cause the most mischief.  The muscles have to work beyond simply creating power for running; they also have to work to support the skeleton during the loading of these forces. Thus they are working very hard, especially when you compare road running to non impact running such as water jogging.  During a Marathon training the body is subjected to this effect for a prolonged period.

Muscles love to shorten when you are training, resting and injured.  Hence it is important to stretch, warm up/cool down properly and receive sports massage.  These are especially important when you are training for high mileage events like Marathons.

Sports Massage has many recognised benefits, these are;

Maintenance

  • massage works directly on the muscles helping to keep them loose and supple through training
  • identifying possible issues and allowing them to be treated before they become an issue which may cause you to have time off, if left untreated
  • speeding up recovery from training

Treating soft tissue injuries

  • Injuries rarely occur in isolation and the wider area needs to be treated because the non-injured areas around the site of the injury work harder to try and compensate for the injured muscle weakness

Pre/post event treatments

  • Pre/post event massage is different from what most people perceive as sports massage in that it is a short, light and flushing treatment

Stretching is very beneficial and important, but stretching does have its limitations.  The belly or middle of the muscle will largely benefit from stretching and steal the effects of the stretch from the end portions of muscles.  This is where sports massage steps in as it affects the muscles evenly throughout their whole length.  Tightness has few places to hide when sports massage is under taken.

Warming up and cooling down are also important, this can easily be seen when you miss a cool down and the following day you will feel tight and stiff.  The muscles in your legs act as a pump and help the circulation to remove waste such as lactic acid and bring fresh oxygenated blood and nutrients to the muscles which have been exercised.  sports massage also assists the circulation and the removal of wastes from the muscles.  By using gentle flushing techniques the circulation is increased in the areas being worked on and the after effects of training and competing are reduced.  Thus speeding up recovery and improving performance.

In summary sports massage is a vital and useful tool that should be considered when marathon training frequently along with stretching, warming up/cooling down, nutrition etc…

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Cally Morfitt

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