Many people think of massages as a selfish luxury, but deep tissue massage treatments actually play a valuable role in marathon recovery. Marathons are grueling achievements that considerably stress out muscles. Here is a look into the physical effects that a marathon has on the runner's body, and how deep tissue massage can alleviate some of the post-race pain.
The Strain of a Marathon
Every year, more and more people train for and participate in the 26.2 mile marathon. The feelings that arise upon crossing the finish line will last a lifetime, but there are other physical effects that will take a toll
The physical toll that a marathon has on the human body is astounding. Most marathon runners report some level of muscle stiffness or full-body pain, and it is no wonder why: to complete a marathon, the legs take the body those 26.2 miles in an average 30,000–50,000 repetitive steps. The muscles remain damaged and inflamed for about a week after crossing the finish line, and full muscle reparation can take as long as twelve weeks.
There is another phenomenon that affects marathon runners called "delayed onset muscle soreness," or DOMS. When marathon runners train for the event, they seldom push themselves as far, fast, or hard as they will on race day. Thus, the marathon "shocks" the muscles, causing tiny tears in the muscle fibers that flare up in a painful soreness a day or two after the event (hence the "delayed" aspect of this phenomenon). This is normal, but hardly pleasant.
How Massage Can Help Post-Marathon Recovery
Deep tissue massage is a valuable weapon in post-marathon recovery regimens. Hal Higdon, a world-class runner and Olympian, recommends that marathon runners schedule a professional massage within 48 hours after the race. Some experts suggest getting a massage as soon as a few hours after crossing the finish line, claiming that it can reduce the severity of DOMS.
Despite the differences in opinion about the best time to get a post-marathon massage, a deep tissue massage will remarkably expedite the recovery period. Some of the predominate benefits of this post-marathon deep tissue massage include
- Stimulation of blood flow and blood cells;
- Increased ability to flush toxins and metabolic waste;
- Drop in blood pressure and heart rate, which is often elevated after strenuous activity;
- Bringing awareness to certain sore muscle groups that need extra stretching and attention;
- Helping muscles maintain flexibility;
- Decrease muscle swelling; and
- Reducing stress hormones while increasing immunity.
As an added bonus, deep tissue massages feel great and do wonders for emotional and psychological well-being. After accomplishing something as significant as a marathon, a deep tissue massage also serves as an indulgent reward for the months of training and intestinal fortitude that goes into finishing such a race.