Sports massage before a race

I was speaking to someone (friend of a friend) who does Sports Massages and recommended it as a good idea a few days before I do the Great North Run. Never had this done before and I wondered whether any folks on here had done before a run and what sort of benefit they derived.
Any views?

 

Comments

  • Yes it's a good idea to have a sports massage before. It's important to have one done a therapist who specialise in sports, especially in running. The right type of massage is needed.
  • Cheers SR, they advertise themeslves as Sports specialists, they also do physiotherapy. They seem to have a good reputation. How will it help me? Take some tiredness out of the legs post training?

     

  • I thought the jury was out on the benefits of massage ?  I've never gone for it anyway and I'd not want to mess with my legs before a 'big' race.  Maybe try it first before the big day. 

  • What Cougie said. I've not had one myself but I've heard it can lead to a lot of soreness afterwards, so you wouldn't want to schedule it too close to the race or it could be counter-productive.  At the very least have one to try it out, see what recovery's like afterwards, and how it affects your running.

  • As ever PP is super sensible.I wouldn't do anything for the first time just before a raceimage

    I like to have a leg massage 3-4 days before a big race, but that's because I am old & creaky and various bits of my legs will be stiff and knotted, so the massage brings me back to some vague semblance of symmetry and flexibility!

    However I've been seeing the same massage practitioner for six years now and have complete faith in her. If I had to go to someone new I'd try them out a few weeks before the race first. And if for any reason (e.g. not training!) I'm not stiff and knotted, I probably wouldn't bother getting kneaded.

  • Hmm, so perhaps I shouldn't rush into it? Either that or try it out during training over next few weeks and see what effect it has on my recovery.

    Thanks folks.

     

  • I do sports therapy and I usually suggest to people that if they have never tried it before, then 2 or 3 days before a race is not the time to start!

    Have one maybe a month before to see how you will react to it, or leave it for now and have one after GNR to loosen up the legs post-race.

    Some people find it can make a difference, and others find it makes no difference at all, in the same way that some people rave about acupuncture and others don't see the point of it.  If it works for you then that's what matters.

    Some people do notice that they feel some discomfort in the day or two after a massage, similar to DOMS after heavy exercise sessions.  That's why I wouldn't recommend it so close to the race.

  • I had one before my last race, physio wouldn't do it too close, and on her advice I had it 5 days before and still felt crap when I ran it, I won't do it again, but maybe that's just me.

  • They're agony at the time and you feel funny and wooden legged the next day. Def wise to have an experimental one one few weeks before to see how you react. I suppose all the elites get them but doesn't actually mean there's any evidence for or against them like most things

  • I would have been saying the same thing as Phil and Cougie just over a year ago but I got into sports massage about this time last year. The guy who who does me has years of experience and also does top British marathon runners. Someone who doesn't know what they are doing can do more harm than good. Anybody can add sports massage to their CV but a lot have no idea about how to handle athletes. I went into sports massge a cynic and came out a believer. I usually get 5 or 6 weeks of running on air afterwards. A couple of times I have gone in with a chronic problem and come out able to run. I try to be pro-active these days and go before I have a problem. Now I'm a believer.
  • A massage a few days before the race should be an easy one. A good running therapist will know what is required.
  • I wouldn't risk it, not before a race!

    Seriously, don't even consider it.

    If you feel the need to be pampered, or to relax have a back massage/head massage....whatever, but don't let a physio/masseuse anywhere near your legs!

  • That's very severe advice Jamie but unless you tell us why you think that, then it just sounds you are having a rant against massage therapists. I bet most Olympic athletes had a massage before their events. Sounds like you had a bad experience. Hard to comment since you don't say but if someone didn't know what is required and you got too hard a massage too soon to the race then that would be bad. Trick to to get someone who knows what they are doing. Get one recommended by other runners or your running shop.
  • Fraser....I would think there probably is some decent evidence for the use of massage. Massage has been around for a very long time and top athletes in almost every sport wouldn't use them if it was just hocus pocus. Massage isn't this months fad in Men's Fitness magazine, it is tried and trusted and been around a long long time.
  • Sussex - I think they seem to help me too but I suspect it's all anecdotal in reality. Has anyone ever done a proper double blind randomised controlled trial with decent statistical power ?? Probably not !!

  • Mmm interesting debating over massage.  I usually have one once a month.  I think it helps,  I find them strangely enjoyable image and I feel I'm also paying for someone to listen to me talk about my running for an hour. image image

    My quads got a bit mashed when I did a downhill HM a month ago and every time I'm doing faster stuff they feel heavy.  I realised its 3 months since I had a massage so got one on Wednesday to see if it helps.  I will be running my intervals tonight so will see if there's any difference then.

    I was told on Wednesday that indeed my legs were ready for a 'good washout' to removed all that build up etc.  But I did wonder at the time, what exactly is being washed out. image  Its lot like you've got anything in a jar to take home afterwards.

    MTV if you go to a person who knows there stuff they'll give you the correct depth of massage before your race but I wouldn't have anything done after the Wednesday or Thursday and as others have said its a bit risky if you've never had one done before.  Why not book one for afterwards to help recovery?

     

  • Hi Sussex Runner,

    I wasn't having a rant against massage therapists, I just don't think its wise to have a 'sports massage' a few days before a race. Something very, very light might be ok, but you leave yourself in the hands of the competence of the therapist......and severity can vary greatly between them. Yes, I have had sore, jelly legs after certain massages, not what you need at all. Even certain massages that seem light and relaxing can have leave you feeling a little strange in the legs in the following days. The overall effect after a week or so is probably of benefit, but I'd say keep away for a few days before if the race means something to you.

    Granted, you might find someone who'll give you something that is of benefit, but its too much a gamble when its something that you are seeking to try for the first time (as the opening poster is).

    But to conclude, I think sports massages are a great thing for athletes. I'd just leave them till after the race or well over a week before just to be safe. You don't know who you are going to get or what the effect will be.

  • My anecdotal evidence was that I did my back in doing some gardening. I had already had my first massage booked so I went along wondering if it was worth even going. Getting out of the car to walk to see the therapist was very painful. The massage was painfull. I went in hunched over and in pain. I came out feeling great and later that day went for a 9 mile run. My own body gave me all the evidence I needed to support that massage.



    Jamie is absolutely right about finding the right person is a huge gamble so close to a race. Also, if it ain't broke......
  • The only experiences i've had with sports massages have been very good. But I wouldn't go closer than 2 days before a race. If its a light rub just to loosen out a muscle then i would imagine its fine to get done on the day, even right before the race. But from my experience sports massages are supposed to hurt. If they go deep then it takes a couple of days for the muscle to recover fully.

  • I think massage is one of those things where it's difficult to design a study and collect evidence that it works, due to variations in technique and patients. But as has been said above, there's stacks of anecdotal evidence including the majority of elite athletes getting them done.

    Personally I find them of benefit. I've usually used them following a minor injury such as a calf strain or similar once the acute pain has gone. I'm trying to fit them in on a more regular basis now, every month or so during marathon training.

    It helps that the lady I see is a very good runner herself so knows what she's doing. When I've had massage in the week before a marathon it was kept fairly light so recovery was quick.

  • Exactly Andy D. There isn't one blanket massage for every runner and every circumstance. I remeber once, a story about a boxer who blamed the massage he had, being too robust before a fight and caused him to lose.
  • Hi Sussex Runner,

    That boxer was Thomas Hearns, before he fought Hagler in 1985. For some strange reason he was given a massage of some severity before the match. When Hearn's trainer Manny Steward heard what had happened he went bananas.

    Hearns was knocked out in three rounds.....only his second ever defeat! Granted, his legs did not look too strong that night, and his gameplan that night seemed to be one which required him to have a fair bit of mobility.

    A costly mistake! That said, Hagler fought like a beast and may well have won emphatically regardless. But the loss is often attributed to the prefight massage by Hearn's fans.

  • I'm a massage therapist and a runner and would recommend a massage to anyone (not just because that's my bread and butterimage). However, a word of caution for a massage so close to an event. You do need a very well qualified therapist who knows what they are doing. Make sure that you tell them when is your next event. A good therapist will most probably be reluctant to do a full on sports massage and will just give you a relaxing and soothing massage. Anything too vigorous can have detrimental effect on your race.

    While massage can be beneficial some therapists seem to think the harder they 'hit' you the better and it can leave you in pain for weeks. I've come out from sports massage not being able to run properly for 2 weeks. That should not be case.

    Also make sure that you tell your therapist when the pain is too much. No pain no gain theory doesn't necessarily work in massage. The pain should be somewhere around 6-7 on 10 point scale. So you shouldn't be in complete agony.

    Post event massage, depending on the damage done on the muscles will also not be overly strong. It should help to flush out the waste products (i.e. lactic acid build up); you should be able for good going over couple of days after the race.

  • As massage generally increases muscles' flexibility I wouldn't give one to someone the same day as a race, you don't want to reduce muscle power; quite the reverse. 2-4 days before an event is fine if it's not too deep. Some massage terrorists seem intent on hurting their clients! Post-event I'd avoid it a deep tissue massage too - the last thing damaged muscles want is a pummelling. Ice bath / cryotherapy and later a very light massage using mainly effleurage techniques.

  • Sussex Runner (NLR) wrote (see)
    I would have been saying the same thing as Phil and Cougie just over a year ago but I got into sports massage about this time last year. The guy who who does me has years of experience and also does top British marathon runners. Someone who doesn't know what they are doing can do more harm than good. Anybody can add sports massage to their CV but a lot have no idea about how to handle athletes. I went into sports massge a cynic and came out a believer. I usually get 5 or 6 weeks of running on air afterwards. A couple of times I have gone in with a chronic problem and come out able to run. I try to be pro-active these days and go before I have a problem. Now I'm a believer.

    Agree with Sussex 100%. Proper deep tissue massage has sorted out a number of long standing problems of mine that were deemed 'unfixable' by various NHS and private doctors and physios, even specialist sports physios. I wish I'd discovered it years ago! That and foam rolling, which is pretty much deep tissue self-massage.

    Now, I usually go for a 'maintenance' massage to iron out any minor kinks and niggles a few days before an ultra. Usually less intense than a normal massage and I definitely wouldn't recommend trying it for the first time a couple of days before a big event, that would be as daft as trying out anything else new. The first few times I had it done I was achy and tender for a couple of days afterwards, and also had a mild but noticeable headache.

  • I have had a massage every month for last 18 months and have stayed injury free.       But I am often sore for a couple of days afterwards and wouldn't recomend having one close to a race if you haven't had one before.

     

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