Which type of massage is best for runners?
It’s not surprising that runners get confused about what type of massage would benefit them most. Depending on where you look, there are over 30 different types of massage identified on the internet. Of course, some of these styles are obviously not specifically beneficial to athletes, but runners can go beyond the typical “sports massage” to get results. The following are the four most beneficial types of massages for runners:
Active Release Technique
Active Release Technique, commonly known as A.R.T., is massage technique that combines movement with specific, deep pressure to help relieve muscle adhesions and reduce scar tissue buildup.
During an A.R.T session, the therapist uses his or her hands to evaluate the texture, tightness and mobility of the soft tissue and then works to break up these adhesions with their hands, as well as movement of the muscle.
Swedish massage is perhaps the most well known of the common massage modalities and is often associated with relaxation and pampering. However, Swedish massage can also benefit runners, especially before big competitions.
Swedish massage utilizes long, flowing strokes of various pressure, although usually light, to release muscle tension and increase blood flow.
Swedish massage is best used in the days before big competitions or as a recovery tool after hard workouts. The lighter, relaxing strokes help relieve stress and muscle tension without damaging the muscles, which is important if you have a big race on the horizon. A Swedish massage before a race, especially if you’re coming off a hard week of training, can help you reenergize, relax, and get your legs back under you.
Trigger point therapy is a massage modality that targets muscle knots and areas of referred pain in the muscle tissue. Therapists target and find knots in the muscles or areas of referred pain and use deep pressure to help loosen the adhesions.
Like A.R.T., trigger point therapy is best used to treat injuries. Specifically, trigger point therapy is effective in the treatment of IT band tightness, calf strains, and hamstring injuries.
Deep Tissue Massage
Most runners are familiar with deep tissue massage, which is often confused with deep pressure (e.g., when you tell the therapist to “go harder”). Deep tissue massage targets both the superficial and deep layers of muscles and fascia and are often quite intense as a result of the deliberate, focused work.
Deep tissue massages typically focus on a few specific problem areas and, unlike trigger point therapy, work the entire muscle. Because runners often have tight spots and interconnected issues when volume and intensity are high, deep tissue massage is often the modality of choice during hard training segments.
Sure, it can help you relax. But massage therapy can do more than that. Here are six healthy reasons to book an appointment:
It Counteracts All That Sitting You DoMost individuals are dealing with some kind of postural stress. More often than not [that stress] tends to manifest in the shoulders and neck.
Desk workers, beware. More advanced forms of postural stress show up as pain or weakness in the low back and gluteals caused by prolonged periods of sitting.
Luckily, massage can counteract the imbalance caused from sitting, which means you can keep your desk job—as long as you schedule a regular massage.It Eases Muscle PainGot sore muscles? Massage therapy can help. Massage increases and improves circulation, in much the same way rubbing your elbow when you knock it on a table helps to relieve the pain.A 2011 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that massage therapy is as effective as other methods of treatment for chronic pain.It Soothes Anxiety And DepressionHuman touch, in a context that is safe, friendly and professional, can be incredibly therapeutic and relaxing.
Women diagnosed with breast cancer who received massage therapy three times a week reported being less depressed and less angry, according to a 2005 study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience.And, a study published in the Journal of the American of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, found that patients who were depressed and anxious were much more relaxed and happy, and had reduced stress levels after massage.
It Improves Sleep
Not only can massage encourage a restful sleep – it also helps those who can’t otherwise comfortable rest.
Massage promotes relaxation and sleep in those undergoing chemo or radiation therapy.
Also, if you’re a new parent, you’ll be happy to know it can help infants sleep more, cry less and be less stressed, according to research from the University of Warwick.
It Boosts Immunity
A 2010 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that massage boosts patients’ white blood cell count (which plays a large role in defending the body from disease).
It Relieves Headaches
Next time a headache hits, try booking a last-minute massage. Massage can help decrease frequency and severity of tension headaches.
Research from the Granada University in Spain found that a single session of massage therapy has a immediate effect on perceived pain in the patients with chronic tension headaches.