Sports massage before a race

Good idea or not?

21 to 27 of 27 messages
17/08/2012 at 14:12

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.

17/08/2012 at 14:34
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.
17/08/2012 at 15:04

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.

21/08/2012 at 11:03

I'm a massage therapist and a runner and would recommend a massage to anyone (not just because that's my bread and butter). 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.

22/08/2012 at 20:16

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.

23/08/2012 at 10:26
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.

23/08/2012 at 23:00

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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