How Massage Can Help Runners Go the Distance

A woman running up concrete stairs

The post-race massage

Runners report that post-race massages help lessen muscle tension and improve range of motion, while also making them feel relaxed and rewarded for their hard efforts. A registered massage therapist will apply moving pressure to muscles and other tissues such as tendons, ligaments, and fascia. This softens fascia tissue and helps clenched muscles relax. It also removes adhesions between fascia and muscles. That’s especially good for regular runners, who rely on limber joints and muscles to keep motivated and who regularly train towards peak performance.

Athletic recovery

Studies published in the Journal of Athletic Training and the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that massage after exercise reduced the intensity of delayed onset muscle soreness. And other research suggests that it improves immune function and reduces inflammation. Just one massage treatment can result in an increased number of several types of lymphocytes (white blood cells that play a crucial role in fighting infection) while also decreasing levels of cortisol (the “stress hormone” linked to chronic inflammation).

Injury prevention

Massage for exercise and injury prevention can also reduce the chance of injury by improving range of motion and muscle flexibility. Because heavily exercised muscles can lose their capacity to relax, they can become chronically tight (hypertonic), and lose their elasticity. Sports massage has many of the same benefits as stretching, as it helps increase blood flow to the muscles, stimulate nerve endings and break down scar tissue. It also encourages tissue healing by aiding re-align damaged fibres, which ultimately improves muscular function enables more training at a higher level and with greater safety.