Runners taking part in a mass event

What is pre- and post-event sports massage?

You might have seen massage therapists lurking in tents after a big race. But what exactly are they up to, and what should you expect if you go to see them? And what are the benefits if you do? If you’ve ever wondered what a massage at an event is all about, this is the post for you.

 

Why get a massage at an event?

 

Massage at events has plenty of benefits! A pre-event massage is a great way to get your gameface on, warm your muscles, and get ready for action, physically and mentally. The treatment is brisk and vigorous, designed to get the blood pumping to your muscles - ready to deliver the oxygen and nutrients that they’re going to need once the starting gun fires. A post-event massage is also brief, but altogether much gentler - designed to soothe aching and tired muscles, and set you on the road to recovery. It’s also a great chance to put your tired feet up after your efforts and feel the benefits of someone else looking after you for ten minutes - and it will help to draw a psychological line under the event, whether it went as planned or not, ready for the next phase of your training.

 

What should I expect from a pre-event massage?

 

Speed! This is a fast massage with plenty of brisk movements. We'll use plenty of fast strokes and probably some tapotement (as shown below - hacking or the classic 'karate chop' massage move) It’s all about getting your muscles ready for action - expect to feel warmth being generated as your therapist works on you. They’ll be pushing pretty hard too - don’t be alarmed if the massage couch starts to creak a bit, that just means we’re doing it right.

 

What should I expect from a pre-event massage?

 

Before your massage you’ll probably be asked to check and sign a consent form - this is likely to be far less detailed than the ones you might complete for a normal massage treatment, but will ensure that you are free from any absolute contraindications (conditions which would make treating you unsafe). You’ll almost certainly remain fully dressed - therapists can work over leggings, and of course shorts aren’t a problem. If it’s not shorts weather for you, you could even take a pair to quickly get changed into for your massage, then change back into your warmer clothing for the event itself. The couch is likely to be bare aside from couch roll, though it will be cleaned between clients, as always.

 

What should I expect from a post-event massage?

 

A post-event massage is still a brief treatment, but it’s one conducted at a much slower pace than the pre-event version. This is all about soothing and relaxing - if anything started to feel tight during the event, do tell your therapist so they can address that during the massage. You can expect lots of long, slow strokes, some passive stretching (when your therapist positions you to stretch your muscles while you remain relaxed), and a gentler level of pressure. As with pre-event massage, the couch is likely to be bare aside from couch roll, and you’ll probably be asked to sign a consent form. Your therapist is also likely to ask how long ago you finished the event - you really need to take at least 10-15 minutes to cool down a bit, stretch out, and take some water on board before you head for the massage tent, to ensure that you don’t end up feeling dizzy.

 

What are the benefits of a post-event massage?

 

What are the benefits of a post-event massage?

 

A post-event massage is a great chance to draw a line under your race, for one - it’s time to breathe, relax, and move on. It’s also a chance to kick start the recovery process. Studies have shown that perceived levels of muscle soreness are positively affected by massage (1), and that massage can help the muscles to repair themselves - a 2018 study found that 'when administered to skeletal muscle that has been acutely damaged through exercise, massage therapy appears to be clinically beneficial by reducing inflammation and promoting mitochondrial biogenesis'(2). In other words, massage reduces levels of inflammation causing chemical compounds within the muscles, and increases levels of mitochondrial growth, allowing the muscles to heal microtears caused by hard exertion.

 

How much does pre- and  post-event massage cost?

 

Massage at an event is often free - it’s provided by the organisers as a benefit for participants. You may be asked for a voluntary donation for a charity being supported by the race, but this is optional. If you’re in any doubt, check with the race organisers or ask the therapists themselves - we won’t mind. 

 

 

References:

  1. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0207313
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22301554/

Author Hannah Tabram. Category Blog. First published Thu, 24 Mar 2022 12:18:06 +0000