An Inside Look at Deep Tissue Massages

Deep tissue massages can add value to training. Deep tissue massages can also leave an athlete injured. Keep reading to learn how deep tissue massages can enhance your running performance so you don’t look like this guy (in the photo above) at the finish line of your next race.

What is a Deep Tissue Massage?

  • A deep tissue massage targets deep layers of muscles and connective tissue that surround these muscles.
  • According to the Mayo Clinic, deep tissue massage consists of “slower, more forceful massage strokes.”
  • A deep tissue massage can be an intense experience, sometimes very painful, and often focuses on a few specific problem areas.

Benefits of Deep Tissue Massage

When working with an experienced massage therapist that understands your training and race schedule, one can get many benefits from a deep tissue massage. In addition to enhanced performance and faster recovery, here are some other benefits:

Increased blood flow, removal of metabolic wastes, soft tissue mobility improvement

Risks of Deep Tissue Massage Therapy

Deep tissue massages are usually safe, yet they sometimes can cause setbacks in the attainment of one’s running and overall health goals in the following ways:

Cause new injuries; make old injuries worse; distract patients from more appropriate care such as getting checked out by a doctor (or simply training more intelligently); stress fractures, by their very nature, can occur in any bone but are most commonly found in the feet and ankles. The feet absorb the majority of the body’s weight when running, so that is why many runners have to deal with these types of injuries.

Getting a deep tissue massage, ESPECIALLY on your feet or ankles, the day before or the week of any hard running is not wise. Better yet, it is best to avoid deep tissue massages altogether during the week of hard running/racing.

Warning Signs that Your Massage Therapist is Problematic

Your massage leaves you sore for more than 2-3 days after. Your massage therapist needs to listen better. Your massage therapist needs to be more experienced in the different types of massages and how they can fit into a run training schedule. Your massage therapist needs to comprehend the demands of running races and have experience working with runners. Your massage therapist needs to be more pushy regarding having you schedule an appointment, whether it is in your best interest or not. Your massage therapist does not ease up when you tell him it is too much. The best time to get a deep tissue massage is right before you begin your taper for a race. This is usually 1-2 weeks depending on the distance you will be running in your race.

Keep It Real

Please do not quickly blame your massage therapist if you are injured. First, look at your lifestyle. Be rigorously honest with yourself before you make any changes.

Unintelligent training and lousy nutrition are just as much to blame for stress fractures and other running injuries.

Keep it real, people.

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