If you're currently in the middle of training for an endurance event such as the London marathon (well done, guys!) then you may want to consider a sports massage treatment to avoid injury.

Here our sports and remedial massage therapist Steven Sheppard explains why it's such an effective addition to training:

What are the benefits of sports massage? What does it actually do to the muscles?

Sports massage has many benefits. By stimulating the circulation of blood in the muscles it helps to remove waste substances and promote tissue repair. By stretching the membranes it opens up the pores and improves interstitial permeability. This speeds up the transfer of fluids and chemicals in the muscles thus increasing their speed of recovery. This in turn decreases the risk of injury and allows a greater quality and quantity of training. 

Other benefits include the identification of potential problems so they can be treated before they result in an injury. This is especially beneficial for marathon runners who are prone to overuse issues. 

Are there any other health benefits apart from healthier muscles?

Sports massage also helps to increase flexibility, which improves technique; and it promotes relaxation, with both physical and psychological benefits. By improving self-awareness massage can help athletes to fine tune their training methods and technique and also correct any postural imbalances. 

When should I have treatments? How many treatments do I need?

If you were only to have one massage whilst training for an endurance event the optimum time would be after your longest training session but at least a few days before the event. A sports massage once or twice a week is ideal pre-event followed up by a gentle post-race massage as soon as possible afterwards and a more intense treatment a few days later. 

Is it painful?

Sports massage can be painful when the therapist finds problems with the soft-tissue that need addressing. In the long term though it can be seen as trading off a short period of pain during the treatment for a potentially longer period of painful injury. A good therapist will always work within the client's pain threshold though so if an issue is too painful to fix in one treatment they can make a start on it and return to complete the treatment at a latter date. For people with no significant problems a sports massage can be relaxing and provide them with the peace of mind that their muscles are in good condition. 

Steven Sheppard (MISRM)
Sport & Remedial Massage Therapist