As a physical therapist, I encourage people to think about massage therapy not only as a luxurious treat but also as a normal part of your healthy lifestyle. This centuries-old healing technique has a wide variety of applications when it comes to health and wellness, and can be extremely beneficial for certain populations. Enter runners.

You may know one. You know, those crazy people who love to wake up early, strap on a pair of sneakers, put on some tunes, and go get their hearts pumping for a few miles every day? Yeah, those guys. Maybe you’re one of them, and if you are, I’ve got 3 reasons why getting a regular massage is a good idea.

3 Reasons Why Runners Should Get Massages

Different types of massage–including Swedish massage and deep tissue massage–have different goals and effects on the body. Many styles can offer helpful benefits to you as a runner. Here are 3:

1) Prevent Running-Related Injury

Logging many miles with muscles that have abnormal length/tension may lead to repetitive stress injuries including tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, and stress fractures. Massage therapists are skilled at identifying and targeting potential problem areas in the runner’s body that may be prone to injury. Specifically, runners often have tight and/or shortened hip flexors, hamstrings, and calves–all of which can become more pliable and flexible thanks to regular massage therapy.

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2) Accelerate Your Recovery

It’s normal to feel sore in the days following a grueling running workout. Massage can help relax tense or sore muscles, relieving your pain. A massage sesh can also increase blood flow and lymphatic drainage to massage for runnersmuscles and other connective tissues, thereby decreasing inflammation, promoting cellular repair, and overall speeding up your rate of recovery.

3) Improve Your Performance

Not only does massage help you get back on the road faster–it may also help you run better when you’re out there. Muscle fibers and motor nerves have been shown to function more effectively in runners who receive regular massages compared with runners who don’t, which can help you run faster, longer, and with better technique.

So, how often should you visit a massage therapist? That really depends on you: your budget, your lifestyle, your overall health status, and your training routine. I recommend getting a massage at least once per month. This seems to be a sustainable frequency for most people and a great way to reap the most benefits over time.

The cost of getting a professional massage can add up, of course. But if you’re serious about your training (and/or if you have a history of a running related injury), then it truly is worth it. Need a little incentive? Check out this awesome sports-specific massage special–a 25 minute Lower Body Runner’s massage designed specifically to relieve muscle tightness, improve circulation, and restore normal joint mobility.

Got a favorite way to relax after a long run? Let’s hear it: share in the comments below!

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