Pop along to any Richmond Park Run and you may well see a little tent offering massages. Is it worth it, what does it do, what actually is it? If you head off to get a massage without knowing what you’re looking for it may infect reduce performance. Whilst the lovely ladies and gents in the park run tent will know what they’re doing, others may not. Please note, I am essentially skimming the surface here!

Pre Event Massage

As the name suggests, this is used to prepare the body for upcoming event. The aim is to create a state of readiness within your muscles and tissues. Think of it as a pre warm up, warm up, your looking to increase the circulation of blood to the muscles. This then ensures they are well oxygenated and flushed of any harmful toxins. As a result, tight muscles will relax allowing for full Range Of Motion (ROM), leading to a reduced risk of injury.

These massages will tend to be shorter in duration and not too deep. Remember you are looking to prime the body for action. This is not the time to A) drift off to sleep or B) leave feeling battered and bruised from flattening out multiple knots!

Make sure you leave feeling refreshed and ready to unleash the beast!

Remedial Massage

It’s like a massage but harder? Well not exactly, but deep tissue massages can be used to treat injuries and can help to reduce pain. It does this by increasing blood supply (now there’s a surprise) to the soft tissues, removing blockages and damaged cells, speeding up the overall recovery. The removal of damaged cells allows for healing and recovery to begin, while removal of blockages allows for the increased blood flow to fully reach the area.

Because of this, they can often take much more of a toll on the body. Which this in mind, you shouldn’t leave feeling like you’ve just gone 10 rounds with Mike Tyson! While you may feel the impact of working out tight areas, you should see an improved range of motion. It was once described to me as the “fluffy side of pain”.

You should leave feeling the benefits but also knowing you’ve had some intense bodywork done.

Are They Essential?

As with anything and everything out there, research can be varied and I could find you multiple papers that argue both for and against. Personally, I have had good results from both methods, this may be a placebo, it may not be. Even if it was placebo, it still worked, so for me it’s worth it.

Give it a go but be aware, as a general rule of thumb you’re going to have to pay for quality. A cheap massage can be far from a cheap fix!