The Therapeutic Massage Difference that Will Help Any Runner Stay Healthy

Before Reading Here's What You Should Know: 

A good therapeutic sports massage can be a great addition to your recovery program and your body’s physical health and maintenance. Aside from the practitioner having an advanced training and skill level, therapeutic massage can; 

  •       It will treat the cause and symptom

  •        Correct techniques to assure no further damage

  •         A program dedicated to achieving a better outcome

  •        Long lasting effects

Running requires sustained, repetitive muscle contractions. The greater these contractions are, the greater the force generated is, and the more muscle fibers are required to shorten. These sustained, repetitive muscular contractions translate into speed, power, and distance allowing us to run further and faster. However, this can also translate to shortened, tight muscles, joint range of motion losses, and decreased circulation to compressed tissues. Massage works to elongate the muscles, relieve muscle tightness, restore joint range of motion, and improve circulation.

These effects are significant for everyone, but are of particular importance to a runner looking for ways to recover faster, prevent injuries, and improve performance. Keep in mind, though, that “therapeutic” massage means a specific type of massage, which involves applying a deep pressure that is designed to be corrective to soft tissue. This is very different than spa or relaxing massage and it must be administered by a licensed and trained professional.

It is important to note that the effects of massage are cumulative. This means that the effects and benefits increase with sequential, repetitive massages. Receiving one massage prior to a race or every once in a while will not reap the same benefits as a regular program of massage therapy throughout your training.

Sports (or athletic) massage therapy utilizes deep tissue massage techniques that relax and warm the muscles, then relax and lengthen them. Sports massage also includes joint mobilizations, stretching and strengthening techniques to free up joints, strengthen weak muscles and improve flexibility. Also, sports massage treats and assists in the prevention of common and specific sports-related conditions or injuries such as tendonitis, muscle strains and sprains, shin splints and plantar fasciitis.

Taking into consideration whether you have recurring injuries, what your running goals are and how much training you are able to accomplish free from injury and pain, will determine how often soft tissue work is needed to achieve your optimal performance.

Muscle therapy is also very important as a preventative program. Once an athlete sustains an injury, seeking medical attention with a proper diagnosis and treatment plan is very important. Therapeutic massage should then follow as an intricate part of the recovery process.

-          Helene Weber, LCMT, CCHT, IBJI/HPI Highland Park, IL

At the IBJI Health Performance Institute we are very fortunate to have an integrative care model that involves Licensed Clincical Massage Therapists working along side Physical Therapists, Orthopedic Doctors, Occupational Therapists, Athletic Trainers, and Personal Trainers to help any of our patients, clients, or athletes receive the best care for their given situation.