The benefits of massage for runners
Updated: Jul 3
Runners have known for a long time that a good massage can help to boost recovery after a race or after a particularly tough training session. Deep tissue massage improves the blood flow to your muscles by stimulating the circulatory system which delivers blood enriched with oxygen and nutrients, like glucose and electrolytes, to muscle tissue. It then picks up and removes muscle metabolic by-products and waste. Better circulation means better delivery of nutrients and oxygen across the entire body.
Clinical massage is of particular importance to runners as it helps to prevent injuries, helps with faster recovery and improved performance. But a study from sports academics in Walden University, Minneapolis on 30 women from the East Midlands in England has proven that massage has a huge psychological impact too.
A positive mindset is crucial for athletes of all disciplines. The psychological benefits of massage and stretching were compared by providing massage and stretching sessions before and after running for a 20-minute period. The increase in ‘positive affect’ was statistically significant after massage, but no significant change was noted following the stretching session.
The results also illustrated that a 10-min pre-event massage increased positive affect and decreased perceived physical symptoms. The decrease in physical symptoms may be attributed directly to the therapeutic effects of massage on blood flow, connective tissues, muscle, and the nervous system. The results also corroborated past research findings showing that massage triggers both physical and psychological benefits.
In 2013, Albert Moraska, PhD, conducted research to determine the efficacy beliefs of massage for muscle recovery following completion of a 10-km running race. Subjects were recruited immediately following completion of the race and were asked to complete a short questionnaire. 80% believed that massage would benefit muscle recovery following running a race and it was observed that women were more likely to seek out massage as an effective recovery intervention from running. The study found that the benefits of massage was well-accepted as a valuable aid to the recovery of race-associated muscle soreness or fatigue.
There are specific times to get deep tissue massage if you want to really feel the benefits. You should always get a massage after your run and preferably with an easy run planned for the following day. This helps your body with the recovery process.
It’s also worth noting that the effects of massage are cumulative. Receiving one massage prior to or after a race will not reap the same benefits as regular programmed massage therapy sessions throughout your training programme.
Hayley Oxley Hayley qualified as a massage therapist at The Jing Institute which has an international reputation as a centre of excellence in training massage therapists in advanced techniques that reduce pain quickly and effectively.
This specialist form of massage is renowned for helping back pain, neck pain, frozen shoulder, RSI (repetitive strain injury), headaches and migraine, TMJ, whiplash, sports injuries , tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, pain from pregnancy and stress related conditions.
Hayley's passion for sports, anatomy and body mechanics has led her to study with the MuTu TM system as well as Restorative Exercise with biomechanist Katy Bowman.