I don’t know about where you live, but in our small, fairly remote part of the world there are many massage clinics and they’re all busy. My in-depth research into the subject (aka counting the number of entries in the Yellow Pages) turned up 56 massage therapy clinics in a population of slightly over 56,000 within the city limits and slightly over 94,000 in the greater region. That’s one more clinic than were listed for dental clinics. I haven’t decided what message I should take away from that comparison, but many runners I know put a lot of store in their massage therapist of choice. I have now joined those ranks.
One week from today we will be heading to Chicago, flying through Toronto, where we’ll be joined by my brother and sister-in-law. All being well, the three of us who are running in the marathon a week from Sunday – along with 45,000 others – will be in good shape and raring to go. As the actual race day nears, ensuring that you stay healthy and injury-free takes on extra significance. The time to recover has passed; it’s now or never – well, at least for this time. What can you do to ensure that all those issues over the course of the past several months of training will not rear their ugly head again: IT band problems, strained gluts, and hamstrings for starters? To keep them at bay as the race date approaches, one option I highly recommend is treating yourself to a weekly massage, preferably as soon as possible after your weekly long run. After using my own favourite sports massage therapist to help me overcome my recent IT band problem, it dawned on me that with 4 weeks to go, making an appointment for every Monday morning until we left for Chicago might be a good plan. Inspired, if I do say so myself! I also have an appointment for the first day I get back from Chicago. 🙂
I have to admit that I can find as much online information questioning the medical benefits of massage for runners as I can find articles endorsing the practice, but I am a convert. The ability of a knowledgeable person to knead away the knots and relax the muscles in your body, especially supporting muscles in your back, is a big benefit.
I was first introduced to registered massage and sports therapists ten years ago, not because of running but because of work-related repetitive strain injuries and then frozen shoulder. These maladies have exploded now that so much of our population now spends most of the day bent over a keyboard, with poor ergonomics and too much time spent sitting in one position. Sorry to say, for the most part doctors seem to treat soft tissue injuries with some pain killers and the advice to wait it out, in the expectation that eventually your body will heal. If we want to enjoy a good quality of life, we need to take charge of our bodies; taking ibuprofen and sleeping with ice packs for months on end doesn’t do it for me. Finding a talented massage therapist is one way to do that. Finding one that can do acupuncture as well is even better!
Hopefully, my extra massage care will help me be ready for the big day. For those of you who haven’t been to a large race, either as a participant or a spectator, give it some thought. It’s hard not to get caught up in the excitement of thousands upon thousands of anxious runners at a starting line. And there are also the elite world-class racers at the beginning of the pack that are really worth watching – they’re unbelievable. For the longer races like half marathons and full marathons, runners are on the course for a long time, some (like me) for a very long time, so having spectators cheering them on is lots of fun for everyone. If you’re not a runner, put it on your bucket list to visit a city during a weekend when they’re holding a big race and enjoy being an enthusiastic spectator. Bring bells, make funny signs, and cheer loudly!! You’ll be appreciated by everyone running by you. Maybe you’ll even decide to try running a race yourself. If so, be prepared for a ride!