Did you know that you can significantly improve your runs while lying down? Yes, experts say that you can run better, faster, and longer if you lie down and…get a massage, that is. The benefits of a massage for runners are numerous:
- increases blood flow to your muscles (in simple language, it “heats” the blood just like a warm-up would do)
- soothes and relaxes your muscles
- relieves cramps and muscle tension
- improves flexibility which will result in more power and better performance
- prevents injury
- reduces tension (if you’re stressed about an upcoming race)
- lessens soreness (especially after a heavy training day or a race)
- aids in eliminating lactic acid build up
- makes you feel better (not as good as a tough run though!)
It comes as no surprise then that some experts recommend massage to be a regular part of a runner’s training schedule. At the NYC Marathon, they deploy 100 massage therapists to serve the 34,000 runners before and after the race. Wow. Here in the Philippines, we don’t even get water in our water stations (tsk tsk).
I have a love-hate-love relationship with massages. I used to love them, then after a nightmarish experience with a masseuse I boycotted them for three years, and now that I’m into running I am completely utterly dependent on them. After a super heavy run, it’s a must for me to get a massage if I want to walk properly (and not look like I have a stick up my butt) the following morning. If I feel sluggish during the day, my masseuse will definitely be called upon that evening.
Last Friday, two nights before the Champion Race, I thought of treating my body to a massage (perhaps the best way to prepare it for the torture it was about to endure…some sort of yin & yang in the bullrunner’s world.) With my favorite masseuse unavailable, I bravely asked them to send me the strongest woman in the house. This was no time for a namby-pamby body rub; I wanted fierce and fiesty karate-chop-type of physical therapy.
Boy did I make a big mistake. When the masseuse (let’s call her Masseuse X to protect her identity) started massaging my legs, I felt pain, not relief! Masseuse X had power alright, but her strokes were quick, rough, and amateurish. Her fingers were pushing into my skin. She even pulled on my blister and my dead toenail—such monstrosity! Not once, not twice, but thrice I asked her to decrease the pressure, but she didn’t heed my request. Ack, I gritted my teeth thinking of the hundreds of seconds I had to endure under that pain.
Since I am writing now, you know that I did survive that horrifying experience. I went to the Champion Run with a rejuvenated body, but with bruises on my shins and arms because of the pounding. Lesson learned: Thou shalt not experiment with a new masseuse before a race. If possible, have husband serve as guinea pig first.
Gloria Averbuch, New York Road Runners Complete Book of Running and Fitness, 4th Edition, New York, Random House, 2004
Claudia Piepenberg, Massage For Runners, How To Be Fit.com