This is the time of year that we see a lot of runners come in for a massage. They have finished their long training runs and are preparing for the Chili Half Marathon and/or Around The Bay. They come to get the knots worked out of their muscles and to have nagging sore spots looked at so they can compete at their best. When a tight muscle doesn’t function properly it can lead to poor performance. These runners will return for a massage after the event to decrease pain and fatigue.
Several research studies have shown that massage after activity helps to decrease pain and perceived fatigue. Most of the studies involved sports of short duration, such as volleyball and basketball. A recent study in Australia showed that massage helps after an Ironman Triathlon event, which covers 226 kilometres and takes the average participant 12 hours to complete. Triathlon participants whose major complaint was pain in the quadriceps muscles after the event were asked to rate their pain and fatigue on a visual analogue scale. Compared to the control group who just rested, the group who received massage on the quadriceps muscles had a significant decrease in pain and fatigue.
Athletes of all ages can benefit from massage therapy. Children competing in rep sports or at an elite level spend up to 20 hours a week training for competition. Young athletes experiencing a growth spurt are particularly susceptible to tight muscles. Marathoners will log hundreds of kilometers a week. All this training leads to sore, tight muscles, and eventually, injury, this is why professional athletes such as Roger Federer, Usain Bolt, and Rory McIlroy use massage therapy as a way to recover between matches and competition.
At Burlington Sports Therapy, our Registered Massage Therapist is also a Certified Athletic Therapist, so if there is more than just tightness, she will be able to assess your sore areas, determine what may be contributing to the pain, use a variety of methods to treat the tightness, and prescribe strengthening exercises if necessary.
Madeleine Hunter, BA, CAT(C), RMT
Reference: Massage therapy decreases pain and perceived fatigue after long-distance Ironman triathlon: a randomized trial. Journalofphysiotherapy.com.