To massage or not to massage; that is my question

I’ve always been intrigued by the “sports massage”, wondering just what it entails, and what good it does for athletes. My physio even recommended that I go for one (when I was seeing her last year), but I’ve never done anything about it.

Until now.

Recently when I was doing a run at the Dubai Autodrome, they had a sports massage therapist (and a physiotherapist) stationed there to assist anyone when they were finished their run or cycle, to give advice, and even offer complimentary massages.

I chatted to the massage therapist for a few minutes, hopped on the massage table and he gave me a quick 5-minute or so massage just to try and gain an understanding of what it was that I was after. The following week he sent out an email with some further details and I decided to bite the bullet and finally go for one.

On arrival we spent a few minutes going through my injury, what I hoped to gain from the massage and just a bit of general sports massage banter. Then I hopped up on the table and he began his therapy.

At first it was just like going for a full-body massage at the spa – a treat almost. And then he started getting really deep into some of the muscles and that’s when I noticed the difference of pampering myself at the salon vs a proper sports massage. But let me just say that it was pain in a good way – kinda similar to how I would endure the pain from the physio because I knew it was helping me out… this pain was something that I could grin and bear (had to squeeze my eyes shut a few times to bear the pain) but the idea is that it’s meant to help me afterwards, and in the long run (no pun intended).

The idea of a sports massage is to aid with recovery… it tears down some of the tension in your muscles so that after you’ve run, your body is able to recover quicker, and therefore get you back on the road again sooner, and hopefully even for longer.

During the massage it came up in conversation that I was planning a run for the next day. The therapist said to me that the ideal amount of time to wait after a massage before going for a run is usually about 48 hours, but he went on to say that if I felt I really wanted to run then I should go for it and listen to my body. If my body was saying “Hey, this is fine, let’s carry on” then I should do so, but take it easy. However, if my body was saying “You fool, you beat me up yesterday at that therapist’s office, best you stop NOW” then that’s what I should do. By the end of the massage I made the decision to not run the next day, also because taking into consideration this was my first one, I did not know how my body was going to react to the massage.

So I went home and constantly made a point of checking how my legs were feeling… and the whole time I gave myself the thumbs up.

I waited the suggested 48 hours and went for a run 2 days later – an easy (almost) 9km run. Now, I can’t say exactly how much of an effect the massage had on me, especially as I’d done a hard kickboxing class the previous day, but I felt fantastic on this run. I chose to not have my little voices in my head telling me my pace or distance and was extremely chuffed when I constantly felt like I was running at a decent pace – and even more so when I finished the run and had my fastest kilometer of the run done in under 5 minutes! I must just add in here that at the start of the run there was some serious head wind that I was fighting – so bad in fact that at least 4 times I had to grab at my cap to stop it blowing off my head!

IMG_2377     IMG_2378

So my question now is: do I go regularly for these, and if so, then just how regularly should I be looking at going? A major deciding factor in all of this is the fact that they are not cheap things to go for so I need to make a really educated decision, considering my bank account at the same time.

Readers – have you tried out sports massage therapy? What are your thoughts and opinions on it?

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