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How Massage therapy Can Benefit Long Distance Runners


Are you running a Marathon this spring or summer, like the BMO Marathon or the ScotiaBank Half Marathon? How does your body feel and how do you deal with training and injuries? Whether you’re an avid runner or just want to finally challenge yourself to accomplish your first Marathon, self-care is an important part of any training program. How can Massage Therapy benefit runners like yourself?

Running a 42km marathon is no easy task for someone who hasn’t run any more than 5-10KM.  Running involves repetitive muscle contractions, and these sustained, repetitive muscular contractions lead to shortened, tight muscles, decreased joint range of motion to compressed tissues.  The greater the distance, the greater the pressure and stress put on your body.   

People come in all different shapes, heights and sizes. Sharing the common goal to reach the finish line, running can have a different impact on every individual. You may suffer from recurring injuries, you may be setting a new distance goal or having particular orthotic problem.  If you are not wearing proper foot wear, you may end up having irritated feet and suffer inflammation like Plantar Fasciitis. Some people may have tight muscles (hamstrings, quads and calf muscles) and if they don’t stretch regularly, these muscles can go to spasm or affect overall posture.  Common injuries with running are tendinitis, Illio Tibia Band syndrome, shin splints, and various joint problems in the knees, ankles and hip joints.  During your 16-18 weeks of training, as you add more mileage to your training your body demands more self care, rest, hydration and nutrition. You have to be prepared to identify some of the obstacles and weakness that may lead to injury.

It is highly effective to make therapeutic massage part of your training program as effects and benefits increase with sequential, repetitive massages throughout your pre-race and post-race schedule.

Massage Therapy can help…

  1. relieve muscle tightness and restore joint range of motion
  2. improve blood circulation and oxygen carrying capacity, lowering blood pressure
  3. promote removal of metabolic waste and reduce cortisol levels 
  4. restore posture and gait, improve connective tissue healing and prevent future injury

Massage Therapy is a great injury preventative program as well as part of a comprehensive recovery program.  Unlike spa or relaxing massage, “Therapeutic Massage” is a specific type of massage, in which Registered Massage Therapists (RMT) are licensed and trained to treat you with their anatomical/biomechanical knowledge and to help you loosen tight muscles in your lower extremities, removing lactic build up due to training and stretching while during treatment.  Massage Therapists are also trained to provide specific stretching and strengthening exercises that will prevent you from further risk of injury.

If you are going to run a Marathon and if this is your first time doing so, the best advice is to listen to your body, pace yourself with your training and get treatment from you registered Massage Therapist and you most likely will achieve your goals. Wishing you the best of luck!