You’re approaching the final stages of your training, and the pressure is beginning to ramp up along with the mileage.
After all the time, commitment and effort you’ve put in over the past months, the last thing you can afford now is an injury.
At best it’s going to play havoc with your training schedule and impact on your finishing time. And at worst, it could be the end of your marathon – something you don’t even want to think about after all it’s taken to get this far.
However, running more miles than your body is used to – for many people, more miles than they’ve ever run before – puts significantly greater strain on your muscles and joints than they’re used to.
For anyone who has been at all lax with their prehab (think technique work, stretching, foam rolling and massage) your muscles are more prone to getting tighter and you’re likely to pick up niggles and injuries.
It’s a risk that’s even greater for anyone who works at a desk. That’s because of the postural impact of spending several hours at a computer or in meetings before or after your daily run.
As you can see below, a seated position – especially with less than perfect posture – will tighten many of the muscles that need to be long for safe and efficient running, and lengthen many of the muscles that need to be tight and engaged.
So what can massage do about all this?
- First off, massage will loosen tight muscles, ease any stiffness or soreness. It can also ease any little tweaks or niggles that you may have picked up, before they turn into something bigger and more debilitating.
- It will also help muscles recover faster from the impact of your training runs, allowing you to train more effectively and more often.
- It will help ‘reset’ the body to undo the muscle imbalances and postural damage that are the almost inevitable combination of combining running with hours of sitting.
- It will help you maintain correct running form. Tight, stiff or sore muscles can cause your body to change its running gait to compensate, and that, in turn, risks injury as the joints and muscles are forced to absorb the load in ways they’re not designed to.
So if you want to do your utmost to make sure all those hours you’ve spent pounding the pavements in the cold and rain weren’t wasted, get yourself a massage. Now.
In fact, consider making it a key part of your training programme going forward. It’ll help you recover from your last run, and put you in better shape for your next one.
And remember to book a session for the day before the race – and afterwards too.
A light massage before race day will help stimulate and balance the muscles without draining them of their energy or overworking them (think pre-race tune-up). A deeper post-race massage will aid recovery, reduce DOMS and help get you ready for your next marathon.
There is going to be another marathon after this one, isn’t there? Of course there is.