With the hype of the 2016 Comrades Marathon just about behind us, one has to wonder what steps the competitors took to recover from the race. By the time they've completed the grueling +/- 90km course, their muscles would've taken a good pounding to say the least. With runners putting in the mileage to prepare for the race, recovery afterwards is sometimes an aspect of their training schedules that they neglect. Not taking the time to properly recover from a race, particularly one of this magnitude, could potentially increase one's risk of injury, lead to over-training or reduce performance levels for future events. Whilst there are many prescribed methods in which to recover from a marathon (e.g. taking an ice bath after, increasing carbohydrate intake, reducing one's training schedule, etc.), I would like to focus on sports massage therapy and it's integral role in the recovery process.
In the days subsequent to the marathon, it is my job as Sports Massage Therapist to improve circulation to the athlete's legs and provide gentle stretching to improve range of motion. Within the first day or two after the event, a quick 30 minute sports massage is recommended with very light pressure being applied. A deep tissue sports massage should be avoided during this time as tender and sore muscles are still very prevalent.
Sports massage therapy helps the muscles repair the microscopic damage that incurred during the race. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) will be evident. DOMS may typically be described as the painful stiffness experienced in the muscles after strenuous exercise. It usually occurs several hours after one's muscles have been exerted. Sports massage therapy has been known to ease the soreness experienced in the muscles post-event.
Running a marathon can be quite a traumatic experience on the body - both mentally and physically. As a result, inflammation and swelling are quite common after the race. Research has shown that massage may reduce inflammation and improve immune function. Although massage will not clear lactic acid from the muscles, it will promote circulation. Improved circulation will promote recovery.
With the above being said, getting a sports massage in the days after a marathon sounds like a good idea, right? Just remember to keep the pressure light and most importantly, listen to your body. Book your session with Muscle Management today. Remember to like our Instagram and Facebook pages to be updated on our current rates and special offers.
Can't afford regular sports massages? Self-massage with foam rollers can also be beneficial between treatments. Coincidentally, this is also the topic for next week's blog.
Until then, cheers!