I stopped by the local Sports Massage School for a long overdue massage last Friday in lieu of going to the gym. This was a good decision as the therapist told me I had a band of muscle under my left scapula the size of a highlighter that was keeping my shoulder blade from moving properly. This would explain the pain in that area during any long distance running including my last four races.
The massage felt great until an hour later when I felt like I had completed a really exhausting back workout the day before and the muscles were very fatigued. I almost typed that it felt like someone had beat the crap out of me…but in a good way. This feeling was a GOOD thing as it was needed (the massage…not the feeling of a beating) and it told me how bad the tightness in my scapula area had become.
The therapist had to dig in and work the tightness out of my back muscles. This is something that doesn’t go away with rest, ice, compression, and elevation…or even heat. It takes someone who knows what they are doing to work it out otherwise it comes right back. If you do a lot of running or biking or swimming then remember that massage is an important part of your overall training regimen. This is a hard lesson I forgot. I have another massage scheduled in three weeks.
Even though the research is still accumulating for all of the benefits associated with massage some of the benefits of massage include:
- Increased circulation to specific areas
- Increased flexibility
- Increased range of motion
- Decreased muscle stiffness
- Increased performance*
I put an asterisk next to the last one because the jury is still out, but from personal experience if I have less pain in my shoulder during long runs as a result of a massage sessions and I then can push farther and faster for longer distances then my performance has increased thus that last bullet item is true for me.
If your massage budget looks like mine due to most funding going for race registrations 😉 then do like I do.
- Find a local massage school (try for a clinical school that instructs primarily for hospitals or rehab)
- Find out when they start classes
- Wait a couple months so the new students get some clinical hours under their belt
- Schedule it and relax!