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How Can Massage Help Runners?

by | Apr 15, 2021 | In Depth Articles

Some runners swear by it, others say it’s a waste of money. The fact that most elite runners have regular massage suggests there must be something in it, but how valuable a tool is it for recreational runners? Is there any evidence it reduces injury or increases performance? Let’s take a look…

What Does Massage Do?

The most commonly proposed benefits of massage are:

  • Massage helps flush away lactic acid
  • Massage improves circulation
  • Massage breaks down muscle/fascia adhesions.

It may therefore come as a surprise to hear that none of these are supported by research. In fact, application of a little basic science suggests that such claims are either unlikely or simply not true.

What?” …I hear you shout. “So all that time & money I’ve invested has been for nothing?

No, hold on to your horses – I am a big fan of massage, I have after all taught it for several years. There is no doubt in my mind that it can help runners, just not in the way you think, and probably not as much as you may have been lead to believe.

Flushing Myths
Modern research has made it quite clear that muscle soreness is not caused by lactic acid build up. Lactic acid (or more accurately ‘lactate’) actually clears from the blood stream the moment you stop running, so the idea that massage helps ‘flush it out’ makes no sense.

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