8 Things to Know Before You Get a Sports Massage

There are several advantages of a sports massage: increased endurance, decreased risk of injury, and, just to name a few, a boosted circulatory system. But bodywork isn’t a one-size-fits-all tool, and before scheduling an appointment, there are certain things to consider. Before having a sports massage, here are 8 things you need to remember.

1. Understand the various massage types.

There are a lot of different kinds of massage, and it’s important to learn the nuances, so you know exactly what you’re signing up for. Some massages can sound exotic, but do little to enhance the efficiency of running. The Swedish massage, for example, is just at best moisturizing the skin, and a hot stone massage is soothing, but does nothing to release tight muscles.

2. Arrive well-hydrated.

Dehydration can make the fascia and muscles stiffer, resulting in a more painful massage. Ensure that you are sipping an adequate amount of H20 before you hop on the table. As for the commonly held belief that extra liquids are needed after massage: that’s a myth. Massage does not release or flush any toxins from your body, which means that it will not dehydrate you. Massage helps to recover from lactic acid but does not get rid of lactic acid. After massage, you can just resume your normal hydration habits.

3. Your therapist is not a doctor.

If you have an injury, you should definitely consult your doctor first. Your therapist may suggest exercises based on what you describe, but if you want to know if you have an injury, you need to see your doctor. After seeing your MD, based on what has been assessed for your injury, your sports therapist can work with you on ways to rehabilitate.

4. Take a bath.

Imagine using the day off to lie in your bathtub, with your body absorbing all the warm water around it. Concentrated Epsom salt baths are recommended as they can continue, and sometimes accelerate, the healing process.

5. Keep the pre-appointment meal light.

Save that heavy post-session meal – or at least three hours before your break-in. Apart from the obvious discomfort of lying face down with a full belly, massage naturally slows down your body’s systems – including the digestive process – which means that overeating pre-massage is likely to make you feel “truly crappy” on the table.

6. Soreness is a normal thing.

When you get off the table, your calves may be screaming at you, but don’t get upset and run home to your foam roller. Soreness is normal and can even help to reveal areas of weakness that should be addressed in the future. The tightness should dissipate within 48 hours, and if the massage is administered correctly, you may even feel like you’re in a new body.

7. Do not expect a spa session.

A sports massage – if done correctly – is not a trip to La Land. Be prepared to move around, interact physically, and get ‘homework’ to keep the work going.

8. Consider carefully before scheduling a massage close to a race.

Completely new to massage, huh? Book your first appointment well before the race – at least a few weeks away – or wait until the next day. Just like you’re not going to test new socks or shoes on race day, you’re not supposed to experiment with any pre-race bodywork. Those who are familiar with the massage may benefit from a pre-race rubdown in the seven or two-day window prior to the event. Getting treatment less than 48 hours before puts all runners – even those who are massage veterans – at risk of racing day pain.