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Pre- and Post Race Sports Massage and Physio Timing

If you look at the study of the training of elite runners, you will notice that they have an entire team helping them in different programs- running and strength coaches, physio therapists, nutritionists, sports psychologists, and massage therapists. Sports massage and physio therapy is a very important part of training for long-distance or intense runners. 

Benefits of Sports Massage

Improves circulation and blood flow.Relaxes tense muscles.Reduces muscle soreness.Improves the range of motion and flexibility.Improves the breakup of scar tissue or adhesions between muscles and fascia, that can restrict the movement of the muscles. Physio therapy is also very important for runners with deeper issues. Often, we don’t realize how tight our muscles are, issues with our biomechanics, tendon and ligament extreme tightness. Physio therapy is a level up of sports massage for runners with some muscle issues or bodily function. Many runners think that physio therapy is only for post-injury recovery, in fact, physio therapy can be very helpful for running injury prevention. 

Benefits of Physio Therapy

Significantly improves mobility and flexibility.Releases extreme muscle tightness by using different types of physio according to your body type (dry needling, deep tissue release, chiropractic, ultrasound therapy). Exercises for improving biomechanics and strength.Post-injury treatments and rehabilitation.

Massage and Physio Therapy Timing

There are specific times pre- and post-race to get deep tissue massage or sports physio to get all the benefits from these therapy sessions. Deep tissue massage or therapy releases waste products at the cellular level, usually the next day you will feel some soreness, it is similar to a workout for the muscles. By doing a strong interval session or long run the day after a deep tissue massage or physio, the muscles will be contracting, introducing more waste products, dehydrating the muscles which won’t boost the benefits of a massage or physio session.

Pre-Race Massage and Physio Timing

The pre-race massage needs to be timed carefully. The massage or physio session should be done close enough to the race in order to get the full benefits of deep tissue work you can feel during the actual race, but not too close to the race so that you feel the post-therapy session muscular tenderness which will affect your race performance. The realignment of deep muscle fibers creates some pain and soreness which can last up to 48 hours after the session. You don’t want to stand at the start line and feel muscle soreness from the massage therapy. Depending on your massage therapy and physio “training” schedule, to feel and get all the benefits from the massage or physio session, if you include regular massage or physio in your schedule, you need to get it done 2-3 days before the race. For runners who rarely get massage therapy or physio, get your deep tissue massage or physio 3-5 days before a race, as you don’t know how your body will react to the work. 

Post-Race Massage and Physio Timing

Especially after long-distance races, there’s a substantial amount of muscular damage after a race, including inflammation, so we need to let our body heal itself for the following 24-48 hours, depending on the race distance and intensity. For shorter races, you can get a sports massage 24 hours after the race. But for long-distance races, for a physio session you should wait at least 3 days after a long-distance race. If you are planning a relaxing, light massage (Swedish massage) which can improve relaxation, muscle tension and lower your stress levels without deep tissue treatments, that you can get it 24 hours after any race. 

Just like running, with all the benefits you get from good consistent training, same with the benefits of massage and physio therapy, the benefits will come over time. To get a single massage or physio before a race will not benefit as much as regular massage therapy throughout your training schedule. 

Train Well, Eat Well, Feel Strong!


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