Ultra running pushes the human body to its limits, making recovery and injury prevention crucial. Massage therapy has emerged as an essential practice for many ultra runners, offering numerous benefits that can enhance performance and longevity in the sport.

Benefits for Ultra Runners:

  1. Muscle recovery: Helps reduce soreness and fatigue after long training runs or races.
  2. Improved circulation: Enhances blood flow, aiding in nutrient delivery and waste removal.
  3. Injury prevention: Addresses muscle imbalances and tightness that can lead to injuries.
  4. Increased flexibility: Improves range of motion, potentially enhancing running efficiency.
  5. Stress reduction: Promotes relaxation, which is vital for mental recovery.

Timing and Frequency:

  • Pre-event: Light massage can help prepare muscles for the challenge ahead.
  • Post-event: Deep tissue work aids recovery, typically 24-48 hours after a race.
  • Regular maintenance: Weekly or bi-weekly sessions during training cycles.

Techniques: Different massage modalities, such as Swedish, deep tissue, and sports massage, can be beneficial depending on the runner’s needs and the proximity to events.

While scientific evidence on massage therapy’s direct impact on performance is mixed, many ultra runners report subjective benefits that contribute to their overall well-being and ability to train consistently.

Incorporating Massage into an Ultra Running Training Plan

  1. Frequency:
    • During base building: Every 2-3 weeks
    • During peak training: Weekly or bi-weekly
    • Taper period: 1-2 sessions, with the last one 2-3 days before the event
    • Post-race: Within 48-72 hours after the event
  2. Timing within training cycles:
    • After long runs: Schedule sessions 1-2 days after your longest weekly runs
    • Before rest days: This allows for maximum recovery benefit
  3. Types of sessions:
    • Maintenance: 30-60 minute sessions focusing on overall muscle health
    • Deep work: 60-90 minute sessions targeting specific problem areas
    • Pre-race: 30-45 minute light sessions to promote relaxation and blood flow
  4. Customizing based on training phase:
    • Base building: Focus on overall body maintenance and addressing chronic issues
    • Peak training: Target areas of heaviest stress (e.g., quads, calves, IT bands)
    • Taper: Lighter touch to avoid soreness, emphasis on relaxation
  5. Communicating with your massage therapist:
    • Share your training schedule and upcoming races
    • Discuss any niggling injuries or areas of concern
    • Provide feedback on how previous sessions affected your running
  6. Combining with other recovery techniques:
    • Use self-massage or foam rolling between professional sessions
    • Integrate with stretching, yoga, or other flexibility work
  7. Adjusting based on individual response:
    • Monitor how you feel in runs following massage sessions
    • Some runners may need more recovery time after deep tissue work
  8. Budget considerations:
    • If regular professional massage isn’t feasible, prioritize key training periods
    • Consider massage as part of your overall training investment

Remember, every runner responds differently to massage. It’s important to experiment and find the approach that works best for your body and training regimen. Always listen to your body and adjust your massage schedule as needed.

If you are training for an ultramarathon or any long running race then get in touch and see how massage treatment can compliment your training. HERE