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The UAE holds many endurance sporting events including various running races, cycling races, swims and triathlons. These include the Dubai marathon and Dubai Ironman 70.3, two huge endurance races for athletes all over the world to attend.
These three disciplines (swimming, running and cycling) are made up of repetitive movements and contractions, continuously using the same muscle groups and potentially leading to repetitive strain syndrome injuries and damage to the joints and surrounding soft tissue. Sports massage is an essential part of training that can help to prevent this…another huge factor being your strength and conditioning work to help stabilise, strengthen and support your musculoskeletal system.
Sports Massage applies a moving pressure to your muscles and connective tissue, including tendons, ligaments and fascia, causing fascia to soften and muscles to relax.
Massage generally improves the effectiveness of the body’s circulatory system by aiding the following…
- Elongating muscles
- Relieving muscle tightness
- Improving blood circulation
- Restoring joint range of movement
The major benefit of massage within endurance sport is that it relaxes tense muscles and removes adhesions or minor scar tissue between muscles and fascia (the sheath or casing that surrounds your muscles). Unneeded tension and adhesions can restrict movement and impair your range of motion, potentially leading to abnormal movement patterns that can cause overuse injuries.
Pain relief is another huge benefit of massage for athletes. Pain changes how we function and can even inhibit healing. The deep tissue massage will reduce pressure within the muscles and tension around the joints resulting in less pain. Massage can also help with recovery after a workout and can help get the athlete out of a stress dominated state of their nervous system. The body will then feel more relaxed and functional therefore optimising there training.
By incorporating regular sports massage as part of the recovery phase within your training plan for endurance sports, you can…
- Improve and optimise your overall training and race performance
- Prevent possible injuries
- Speed up the recovery process after training sessions
- Reduce muscle soreness helping your body feel prepared to take on the next training session
In the run up to your main race event, it is ideal to schedule sports massage into your program. Look at your training plan and include regular treatment if you can. I always recommend once every two weeks unless you can fit in a weekly treatment. The more frequently you can have a sports massage, the more your musculoskeletal system will benefit throughout your training in the lead up to the race. You will be running on tired legs as you begin to increase the mileage in your training and you have to look after your body, think of yourself as a car needing a regular service.
It is recommended to have your final sports massage with 72 hours before your race day, so your body can feel fully recovered and replenished as you reach the start line. A similar recommendation goes for post-race massage, think of massage as a workout where deep pressure can cause some muscle soreness. You don’t want to layer too many sources of muscle soreness so it’s best to wait 1-2 days after a race to get your appointment.
After your massage it is important to drink plenty of water to re-hydrate, rest and stretch. This will help you get the most out of each massage. The day after your massage you should aim to perform only a light or recovery session, in order to give your muscles the full benefits.
You may notice that professional runners and triathletes have an entire team helping them succeed. Their coach is just the leader – most elites also see sports psychologists, strength coaches, nutritionists, a variety of doctors, and yes, massage therapists. However, you do not need to be an elite to have massage as part of your training. This is a very important protocol in every individuals training routine regardless of ability the effort and load going into your body and into the training is the same.
What to do in between appointments and sports massages with your Sports Therapist…
- Follow a strength and conditioning program
- Follow a mobility program
- Use your foam roller and trigger point release ball
Final part….go race, have fun and run hard!!