Just over a month from now more than 36,000 runners will be taking part in the London Marathon; 26 miles through one of the greatest cities in the world. Sunday race morning is always exciting, but London has a special element; being cheered on by hundreds of thousands of spectators for one of the biggest fundraising events in the world. The London Marathon is a very special event for me as well, as it was my introduction to the world of sport & remedial massage therapy, so it is quite fitting that a few years after I ran London 2010, I am starting my new job at Leyton Sports Massage. I’d like to share my experience, both as a runner and as a therapist working with runners, and hopefully it will help anyone taking part in the marathon or any other running events.
How Sport & Remedial Massage Therapy Helped Me Run
I can honestly say I would have not been able to run two of my London Marathons if it was not for the brilliant sport & remedial massage therapist treating me. His massage work, posture and exercise advice helped me tremendously with my training. Long distance running can be very demanding on the body and create all sorts of imbalances and injuries if the runner has poor posture and technique.
I am a runner with a pronating gait that led to a lot of discomfort and pain in my legs, hips and back because my calves and shin muscles were overcompensating. My therapist was able to identify this, and used massage techniques to restore my overworked muscles. He also suggested I get personalised orthotic soles made to correct my pronation. It worked a charm and that was the end of my shins splints.
I was still overtraining from time to time and not warming up correctly or stretching enough. My therapist helped me adapt my training program, with an emphasis on improving my warm-up and ensuring I allowed sufficient time for rest/recovery. It was very frustrating to be affected by injury, and I found massage was a great way to prevent further injuries, speed up recovery and monitor muscle and joint health.
How I Work with Runners as a Sport & Remedial Massage Therapist
As a sports therapist, I have had the opportunity to work with a few people training for both marathons and ultra-marathons. They had very different styles and goals with their running, but one thing they seemed to have in common is that after massage their recovery times improved and that they all felt an improvement in muscle function and the range of movement in their joints.
One of my clients is a barefoot runner, a style of running that gets a lot of attention and the debate is still pretty divided. She was inspired to stick to the running style, but it was also causing her a lot of strain in her calves. Together we came up with a treatment plan for her to continue running with her preferred style, by firstly releasing the muscle tightness and then adjusting her gait and posture. I also recommended that she alternate her shoes for training, which is a great tip for runners. Alternating training shoes can be very beneficial to the dynamic of the working muscles, to mitigate the muscle repetition that is unavoidable with long-distance training. The sessions proved beneficial and her legs have been in a lot better condition since.
Many of my running clients come to me for maintenance as part of their training, whether it be to do some deep tissue work/stretching to release minor tension or to loosen respiratory muscles. Regular maintenance massage while training is a good way to spot muscle imbalances as they develop and allow you to adjust before they become a problem. With the repetition training for a marathon brings, a minor gait problem can quickly become a problem.
Sport & remedial massage therapy has been a great tool for bringing awareness to my body. I found I could use the knowledge I gained from it to perform better and improve my running. I hope that through my work as a sports therapist I can bring that same benefit to my clients.
Prim is the newest therapist at the clinic, working at the Low Cost Clinic Mondays and Thursday, 8:30-14:30 and one Sunday per month. If you’d like more information about how you could incorporate sport and remedial massage therapy into your training regime, please email us at email@example.com.