This post is in collaboration with the Bodytonic Clinic.
Sports massage is one of those things you hear other runners rave about, but if you’ve never tried it, you may not actually realize what great benefit they can add to your training cycle.
Luckily, James, the director of the Bodytonic Clinic in Canada Water, kindly offered me the opportunity to see for myself what I’d been missing out on during my many years of running. There are three Bodytonic locations in London, in Canada Water, Wapping and Stratford; the Canada Water clinic is very conveniently located across Southwark Park from London City Runners’ home base.
Once I arrived, James gave me a tour of the pristine facilities, with multiple treatment rooms and an atmospheric yoga studio. The bright and airy vibe inside the clinic was immediately welcoming and relaxing (not to mention with incredible air conditioning – desperately needed in London these days!).
My sports massage therapist was Kemmy, who immediately put me at ease and made sure to discuss my exercise habits and any problem areas before getting started. I’d been having some tightness in my right hip and glute, so I asked if she would be able to focus on that. She explained that she would focus on the legs, but would also work on releasing tension in the back and shoulders (boy, did I really need that!).
One of the therapists at work on a patient (not me!)
Kemmy was really easy to talk to, and we ended up talking about all sorts of things, from London City Runners to her childhood in Sweden! It was relaxing just to chat and feel the knots in my muscles slowly release. If you’ve never had a massage before, I guarantee that you won’t realize just how knotted and tense your muscles are until the massage therapist gets started! In addition to working out the knots, a sports massage therapist will often stretch you out as they go along.
The hour was up far too quickly, and I definitely felt way more relaxed and refreshed than when I walked in the door! The soreness in my glute was also much reduced after the session. I can certainly understand why people swear by getting them at regular intervals during their training cycle. It’s a great way to manage any lingering aches and niggles, and it’s great even as a way to reward yourself for powering through some tough training! I know as my training for the Berlin Marathon gets harder, I’ll definitely go back to the Bodytonic Clinic for another sports massage!
Sports Massage FAQ
As a newbie to sports massage, I definitely had a few questions going in, and I’m sure many of you do as well! Matt, one of the osteopaths at the clinic, kindly addressed some of the most common questions surrounding sports massage for us.
What is the difference between a sports massage and a regular massage, and why should runners consider getting a sports massage?
Sports massages are bespoke treatments which can involve a mixture of active stretching, traditional massage, advice on stretching and training plans depending on what event you are working towards. Runners should consider getting a sports massage to support their training as it helps optimise their recovery process for fatigued muscles, reduces muscular tensions and helps to avoid injuries. Depending on their training, a therapist may also include K-Taping, Pilates rehab and medical acupuncture as part of the treatment provided.
When in a training cycle is it best to get a sports massage?
We recommend getting a massage following the longer runs at the weekends to help optimise the recovery process before heading out onto the next runs; otherwise you can feel really fatigued 3 miles into a run if you haven’t recovered from previous training. That said, professional athletes will have massages pre and post training and whenever they can fit them into their training schedule. The sports massage will be tailored for the client and where they are within a training cycle.
How often should you get a sports massage? Should you get one before a big race?
It depends; it is a good idea to incorporate sports massage and stretching as part of a long-term training plan heading up to an event. When the mileage increases, consider increasing the frequency of massages to support your training plan. Having a sports massage before an event is always a good idea to get you ‘race ready’.
Any tips on how to prepare for your first sports massage?
Buy a stick to clench your teeth with! No, sports massages are a firm pressure, as we would like the massage to be effective to reduce muscular tensions but at the same time, they are not to inflict huge amounts of pain. Massage therapists are a friendly bunch and should put you at ease or answer any questions before going ahead with a treatment.
Are there any particular issues I should see a sports massage therapist for?
There are many reason to visit for a sports massage however ITB and TFL issues, hamstring strains, shin splints, plantar fasciitis, buttock and lower back tightness are more common injuries that we see.
Your individual treatment may also include K-Taping or acupuncture, depending on your needs and the therapist’s training.
Want to try out your very own sports massage? The Bodytonic Clinic have generously provided us with TWO vouchers that we can give away to our lucky subscribers! For your chance to win one of two £50 Bodytonic vouchers, subscribe to our blog by the end of the day on Sunday, 22 July. We’ll draw the winners on Monday and contact you via email and make an announcement on our club Facebook page! To subscribe, enter your email in the box at the top or bottom of this article and hit the subscribe button!