So you've booked your Marathon or Half Marathon and are going out running regularly, building up your mileage and looking forward to the big event. I am not here to advise on diet, endurance or training techniques. Although I heartily recommend you get lots of good advice on these issues, and have included some links at the end of this article for good measure. My advice relates more to understanding the signals your body is sending you and reducing the risk of injury ruining your event.
Sports Massage in Support of Training
I have been very fortunate in seeing many runners through Marathons and Half Marathons some I have seen through from the beginning of training to their post event massage. Don't leave this important aspect of your preparation until you develop and injury!!
Sports Massage in particular, is designed to support your body through the changes brought about by periods of intense training. You know better than anyone else how hard you are working your body and whilst those aches and pains you feel are testament to how much progress and hard work you are putting in - they may also be signals of imbalance and strain which, if left, could lead to tendonitis, muscle and ligament damage, and uneven gait leading to all manner of back, foot and leg problems.
A good Sports Massage Therapist can:
- Restore flexibility to overcontracted and adhesed muscles
- Relieve overuse syndrome
- Detect areas that are under particular strain
- Advise on postural issues
- Demonstrate self-treatment techniques
This aids training and event preparation by:
- Early detection and resolution of imbalance/strain
- Improving range of motion, strength and flexibility
- Releasing old and new muscular scar tissue
- Reducing strain on joints,tendons and ligaments
- Improving removal of toxins
- Relieving DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness)
- Highlighting potentially harmful overuse syndrome
Find a good Sports Massage Therapist - make an appointment to see me or if you are a distance away or already have someone you know and trust make an appointment NOW to get your body working optimally from the outset. Then make a regular appointment to keep your body in good shape. As a guideline - I often advise an hour appointment initially followed by 40 minute appointments at fortnightly intervals for maintenance up to the event and a post event massage afterwards. If this is not within your budget I would still advise the hour appointment initially to include self-treatment techniques - stretching alone is rarely enough, and foam rollers can be helpful so long as they are addressing the issues of the individual! There are some very good, safe and effective techniques that can be learned from your therapist which if used on a daily basis can promote strong and healthy muscle tissue.
Take Epsom Salt Baths
Epsom Salt Baths will relax your muscles and speed the elimination of lactic acid and other toxins after physical exertion - a must after your long training runs and especially after your event! You can obtain these from Mind & BodyworX in clinic, via the online booking or online shop, they are also freely available in chemists.
Think of yourself as a whole....
Do NOT think of your muscles and tendons as separate issues - many people suffer with inflamed tendons or tendonitis (the same thing) without realising that the tendon is formed from the fascia of the muscle and it is highly probably that the reason for the tendonitis is over contraction or adhesion in the attached muscle that is pulling at the tendon. In order to do this the source must be tracked back often to the belly of the muscle and released, reducing tension at the tendon insertion and allowing for healing to take place.
Chronic or Repetitive Injuries
If an injury continues to be a problem it is usually for one of two reasons:
- The issue is being caused on a regular basis by some regular activity, that aggravates the issue every time it is repeated
- The cause of the issue has not yet been identified.
If you constantly had a cold virus week after week - would you just accept it as 'your lot' or would you want to know why and find a way of resolving it? The same goes for the moving body - nobody - just has 'dodgy knees' or a 'weak back' unless something has caused - or is continuing to cause these symptoms. These can be as simple and easily resolved as poor postural habits, bag carrying, driving habits, stress and dehydration and repetitive strain or even - and this is alarmingly common - the way you sit at work or when at rest!!
Being aware of the signals your body is sending you and taking heed of them can be the difference in reaching your goal and having to change your plans. Try to think of yourself not in terms of separate body parts i.e. a leg problem and neck issue are not related - if they are in the same body they are! Likewise in terms of your whole life - whatever you are doing in your training regime is also affecting and being affected by whatever you are doing in other areas of your life - other sports and leisure activities - don't be tempted to blame all the niggles you are feeling as being solely running related - the running may just be the thing that is bringing the imbalance to the fore. Taking this to its natural conclusion - you could give up something you love doing even though it may not have been the cause of the problem in the first place!
Join a Running Club
If you don't already belong to a running club consider joining one, not only will you find many like people there but you will have a wealth of experience at your disposal, as well as structured training programmes and useful tips and advice from those who have run Marathons before. Don't worry if you feel a little shy at joining experienced runners - the majority started just as you did and are likely to be just as keen to see you succeed as you are!