I first started getting deep tissue massages last year. I was training for my BQ race and I wanted to do everything I could to make sure all my training and planning for this one race went perfect. Well, if you have been following my blog, you know it did, and I was able to BQ and run Boston 2013. But after my BQ race (Wineglass Sept 2012), I wondered how much benefit there was in the deep-tissue massage. Was it worth the pain and cost to get them? I had my doubts. My last deep-tissue massage was Dec 2012. I trained harder than I ever had before for Boston 2013: 60+ miles a week (at base mileage for 4 weeks), and 5 long runs more of 20 miles or more, the longest being 31 (my first ultra). The Boston Marathon (again if you follow me you already know) was incredible. I made my goal (3:20), qualified with 10+ minutes to spare for next year’s Boston Marathon, and everything was great.
Since then, I have continued to train. (There is always a “next race”!) I did nothing but recovery runs for the next 30 days. I started increasing my base mileage again and training for my next half marathon. I got up to a base of 50 miles a week and started doing my speed work and tempo runs again each week. I added a few 5Ks and 10Ks into the training plan and used them as pace runs. But something was missing. I thought to myself, why don’t I feel good? I was just not recovering like I had been last year. I’m still eating the same and taking my supplements (BCAA, Protein drinks, and electrolyte tablets). My training was the same, so what was wrong? Was I just getting old and needing to slow down? But then it hit me! Could it really be that simple? I have not had a deep-tissue massage since December 2012—is that what I needed?
Then after my last 10K, they offered free massages after the race. I waited in line and asked for a deep-tissue massage on my back and legs. They didn’t have a massage table, so she was only able to do my back and a little bit on my legs.
I made an appointment with Dr. Taylor and finally had another deep-tissue massage. I asked for her to focus on my legs. The therapist said I had a lot of hot spots. I have another appointment next week. My tempo run the day after my massage felt great, 7 miles 1 mile warm up, 5 at 7:45 minutes per mile, then 1 mile cool down. Normally my tempo would be 7:00 minute miles, but it was 85 degrees, So I added 45 sec per mile due to the heat. 30 degrees over 55 degrees, 1.5 sec added for each degree. (Read my blogs about running in the heat if you have not yet.)
I have learned (again) that deep-tissue massage is a key part to any training plan! So what is a deep tissue massage? Deep-tissue massage relieves severe tension in the muscles and connective tissues or fascia. This type of massage focuses on the muscle located below the surface of the top muscle. Deep-tissue massage is recommended for individuals who experience consistent pain, are involved in heavy physical activity (such as training for a marathon), and people who have sustained an injury. It’s important to drink a lot of water after a deep tissue massage to help flush lactic acid out of the tissues. If you don’t, you might be sore the next day. It’s possible that you might feel some soreness the day after a deep-tissue massage even if you DO drink water. This just means a lot of waste products were flushed out of the tissues. It should pass within a day or so. It is not uncommon for a person receiving a deep-tissue massage to have their pain replaced with a new muscle ache for a day or two.
If you are into self-abuse (and what runner is not?) then you could try using a foam roller. With a foam roller you can do what is called self myofascial release. This takes some practice to do and you will need to be somewhat of a contortionist to roll some of your muscles. But again the reward will be a more flexible and stronger muscle. Dr. Taylor or your fitness trainer can show you how to do it correctly to derive the most benefit.
So if you have not tried a deep-tissue massage or a foam roller yet, I recommend you give it a try. I would say, “it can’t hurt,” but the truth is it does hurt. I guess this is the one time that I agree with the saying “no pain, no gain”!
If you are in the San Antonio area, I recommend “Jennifer” and Dr. Taylor at Palser Chiropractic and Massage Therapy. Dr. Taylor is also trained in Active Release Techniques (ART) to correct soft tissue injuries. If you want to learn more about “rolling,” you can find numerous videos on youtube. If you prefer to have a professional introduce you to rolling to “take you from pain to fitness,” Paul Castellano of Thee Body Shop provides private or group sessions.