Be Well Boston is sponsoring the Marathon Sports One Fund Team training to run the Boston Marathon, and Katrina and I recently gave a talk to the group about the benefits of massage to runners, as well as common running injuries we treat and how they can be prevented. Please continue reading if you’re a runner of any ability and want to make the most of those miles…
Benefits of Massage Therapy to runners:
- Increases circulation which results in:
- Better transfer of nutrients and oxygen to cells and tissues
- Rapid removal of metabolic waste products
- Improved oxygen carrying capacity of red blood cells, which equates to improved VO2max
- Reduced cortisol levels in blood stream (cortisol is responsible for inflammation)
- Reduced muscle soreness and fatigue = quicker recovery
- Lengthens muscle and connective tissues, which results in increased flexibility
- Decreases muscular adhesions, which can result from dehydrated and overworked tissues. Adhesions can lead to tearing of muscle fibers as well as an overall decrease in the ability of muscles to properly contract and relax.
- Prevention of injury. During each session, the therapists make mental notes of which areas are tight or seem problematic, and will address this after the session by giving recommendations for anything from stretches to getting fit with proper footwear. We are the eyes and ears of your muscular system for areas that you may not be aware of until it’s too late and injury occurs
- Treatment of injury. Various deep tissue techniques such as cross fiber friction, as well as others help to break down scar tissue that has developed in torn tissue and realign the fibers so that the tissue heals properly and further tearing does not occur
Top 3 Common Running Injuries:
- 1. Runner’s Knee (Petellofemoral Pain Syndrome)
- Irritation of cartilage on the underside of the patella
- Typically felt during or after long runs, after long periods of sitting, or descending hills or stairs
- Typical causes: overpronation, weak or hypertense quads, or weak glutes
- Treatment and prevention: correct stride and/or footwear, strengthen weak muscles supporting the knee (quads, glutes), stretch hip flexors
- Deep tissue massage applied to quads with assisted stretching of hip flexors
Quad/hip flexor stretch:
Kneel on one knee, supported with a cushion (pillow, pad, etc)
Lean forward while keeping back straight until stretch is felt in upper quad of lower leg, hold 30 seconds
For added stretch to quads, pull foot of lowered leg up toward back, hold additional 30 seconds
- 2. Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS)
- The IT band runs from the outside of the hip down to the outer knee, and is an extension of the gluteus maximus and tensor fascia latae (TFL) muscles.
- When running, as the knee flexes and extends, the IT band rubs against the outside of the knee. If the TFL muscle and quads are tight and the glutes are weak, the IT band can be pulled tightly at the knee attachment resulting in irritation. If not treated this can become chronic.
- Keys: Strengthening glutes and stretching quads/TFL muscle
- Deep tissue massage applied to TFL and quads
Lean against bench at gym, side of sofa/bed at home, or stand and lean against wall
Hold for 30 seconds on each side, stretch should be felt in outer hip on side facing bench or wall
- 3. Plantar Fasciitis
- Tearing and inflammation in the fascia (connective tissue) that runs from the heel to the toes on the bottom of the foot, typically felt in the inner heel
- Runners with very high or low arches, and who over pronate or supinate are at risk, as well as those with tight hip flexors and weak core muscles
- Proper footwear, strengthening and stretching the calf muscles and foot, and icing and rolling the heel and arch will help to rehab
- Deep tissue massage applied to the affected area and calf muscles
Calf Stretches for Plantar Fasciitis:
Gastrocnemius (outer calf): Sit with both legs straight. Loop a rope around the ball of one foot and grasp each end of the rope. Flex your foot back toward your ankle, toes toward your knee.
Soleus (inner calf): Sit with one leg straight and the other bent. Grasp the bottom of the foot on the bent leg. Keeping your heel on the ground, pull your foot toward your body as far as you can.
Achilles Tendon (attaches heel to calf): Sit with one leg straight and one bent. Bring your heel close to your buttocks. Keeping your heel on the ground, pull your foot toward your body.
Please consult with one of our therapists for more information on how to prevent and treat injuries or with questions about how massage can help with your training.