If you are in training for one of the spring marathons such as Paris, Manchester, Brighton or London, then your mileage will be increasing steadily over the next few weeks/month, with weekly long runs heading towards the 20 mile mark. Hopefully you are noticing the benefit of your training so far, with increased cardio-vascular strength and endurance helping to make your long runs not as difficult as you may have anticipated. Or perhaps you are noticing that your legs (and you!) are feeling a bit more fatigued and taking longer to recover after your long runs than previously?
Running is a whole body sport, with our muscles and joints acting as the shock absorbers for the transfer of the kinetic energy up through the body, which propels us forward. As you get into the big miles, cummulative stress on the body, especially in the feet, legs, hips and lower back, can start to (dependant on your biomechanics) manifest itself with the presentation of overuse injuries such as Ilio-tibial band (ITB) syndrome, commonly known as ‘runner’s knee’, patellofemoral pain aka knee pain, and muscle strains and discomfort.
At this time in your training, it is recommended to invest your most important piece of kit, yourself!
Sports massage should be considered as an important part of your training strategy, here’s why;
- Efficient recovery – Depending on your training plan, you’re likely to be running about 4-5 days per week. Sports massage is an important tool in helping to promote efficient recovery in soft tissues (muscles, ligaments & tendons) helping to nourish tissue with oxygen and nutrients, helping to reduce fatigue and putting a spring in your step for your next run!
- Injury prevention – You’ve come this far, you don’t want to have to take time out your training at this crucial stage to rest and rehab an injury (take it from me!) Sports massage helps to keep muscles in optimum condition, and importantly enables potential problem areas to be treated, minimising the likelihood of overuse injuries such as ITB syndrome developing.
- Get more out of your training – Maintenance of soft tissues will help promote flexibilty and optimal range of movement of associated joints, which in turn helps to maximise force generation and performance.
- Promote rehabilitation after injury – release of tight, tense tissue helps to improve circulation and lymphatic flow and helps to alleviate the problems which the build-up of scar tissue can cause (following injury muscles, tendons and fascia can become stuck and adhered due to the proliferation of collagen during the healing process, contributing a to restriction in range of movement)
- Enhanced wellbeing - massage treatment is an effective treatment for helping to promote alleviation of stress, which in turn supports our bodies healing capabilities, which are limited when we are overloaded with work, training and generally hectic lives. This aspect of treatment is not to be understimated!
My top tip? Listen to your body! It will tell you what you need to do. If you do have a consistent niggle or pain, this is the time to seek treatment and advice, rather than running through it, hoping it will go away.
In the coming weeks, I’ll be following up with pieces on common running injuries and how to treat them.
Oh, here’s another top tip, ENJOY! Happy running! Maria