A sports massage is not at all like the type of massage you get at a spa. Rather than cover you in lavender scented oil while you listen to ocean waves, it’s a bit more intense.
A sports massage is defined as “the application of soft tissue techniques with the aim of managing, manipulating, and rehabilitating muscles.”
OR, in plain English: being manhandled by a strong pair of hands.
Instead of avoiding sore spots, sports massage therapists seek them out and narrow their focus in an effort to work out the tension and relax muscles. While a good sports massage can sometimes be painful, there are many benefits for runners. It can help with injury prevention, restore mobility to injured muscle tissue, boost performance and even potentially extend the length of a runner’s career.
After last year’s Geneva Marathon, I stood in line for more than an hour to get a post-race massage. I was not leaving that race area until a stranger rubbed my sore legs. In this particular instance, it didn’t help me one bit. I was basically crippled the next day. I remember it took me close to an hour to walk from the tube to my office (when it should have taken about 20 minutes!) I think I was too far gone. That race took everything out of me.
The best results of course, are when you get a regular sports massage. When I’m in peak training, I try to go every two weeks.
At the National Running Show recently, I had the chance to try several massage-related products. The first was a massage bed called The Mobiliser, from a company called Back in Action. It’s not a sport massage per se. It helps with spinal cord mobilisation. My husband liked it so much that we rented one and now have it in our flat. On the one hand, it’s altogether ridiculous. I mean, who has a massage bed in their living room?! But on the other, it’s actually the best thing ever, and as it turns out, a fun activity for visitors! The bed has a series of rollers that go up and down the body. A session lasts 15 minutes. After a workout or a long day at work, it’s a really nice way to relax. While I haven’t noticed any life changing mobility improvements, my husband claims that a problem he’s had with his back for years is now fixed!
I also recently got to connect with the founder of a company that creates the Sports Mitt, a professional sports massage mitt made from food grade silicone. While my colleague may have described them as “warty oven mitts” when they appeared in my Insta story, they are actually extremely effective both before and after exercise. They can help alleviate the tension and stress that builds up in the body as a result of physical activity. I like to massage my calves after a run. The times that I’ve actually remembered to do this, any calf pain completely vanishes. It’s like magic.
Obviously, getting a sports massage from a professional is ideal, but it can also be expensive. The sports mitt is an ideal at-home alternative. If you’re interested in getting yourself a pair of these mitts, use the code Run30 at checkout for 30% off! You can find out more on their website here.
Runners are sore pretty much all the time. For that reason, it’s worth checking out one of these options. Whether you opt for the mitts, a rented massage bed, or a visit to your local sports massage clinic, they’ll all help you run happy for longer.