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How can Sports Massage Therapy (SMT) help treat and prevent common running injuries?

If you’re planning to run the Reading half marathon this year or are starting training for another event later in the year then you may want to consider Sports Massage Therapy (SMT) as part of your training/ recovery programme.  SMT is not only important for recovery and maintenance but also for injury prevention. Your therapist can help to highlight and deal with minor niggles, or muscle tightness/ imbalance before this becomes a problem. Regular SMT can help to improve the condition of your muscles so that you can run faster and more efficiently.


Which injuries are common among Runners that SMT can help prevent/ treat? 


  • Runners Knee (Patelofemoral syndrome)  Running can take it’s toll on the muscles and joints,  in particular the knees. Tightness in the quads can lead to irritation around the patella (knee cap).
  • Another Common injury is IT Band Syndrome- this is where the IT Band which runs down the outside of the leg tightens and causes pain on the outside of the knee.
  • Runners can also suffer from a build up of hamstring tightness which can lead to lower back pain.


What techniques does the therapist use to help prevent/ treat these injuries? 


  • Stretching Techniques

The therapist will use a combination of assisted stretches known as MET to help return your muscles to their original length. Its good to wear sports shorts or leggings to your appointment for this

  • Deep Tissue Oil Massage

They will also work directly on the skin with deep tissue oil massage which helps to speed recovery, prevent build up of tension/ tightness and flush build up of lactic acid through the muscles.

  • Specialist techniques

Sometimes the therapist will work through clothes or a towel with a technique known as Active release which stretches and realigns the muscle fibres helping them to work more efficiently. They may also do myofascial release techniques which work on the myofascia ( connective tissue ) between the muscles to address postural imbalances/ areas of longstanding tension.

  • Remedial/ strengthening exercises

Where there is an imbalance of muscle strength the therapist will also work with you through exercises to rebalance/ regain strength, for example weakness in the core may be putting strain on the lower back so the therapist would give you some core strengthening remedial exercises.


Which areas does the treatment focus on? 

Each treatment is individual- the therapist will ask you about any niggles, pain, tightness and will work not only to relieve those areas but also find the cause of that tightness which may well be coming from somewhere else for example in IT Band Syndrome the tightness is usually coming from the hip/ gluteal area. You can also ask for a general lower body massage where the therapist will work on your feet, calves, shins, thighs, glutes and hips.


How regularly should runners have treatment?

Generally it’s advisable to have a maintenance massage once a month however in the lead up to an event it’s a good idea to have a treatment fortnightly or even once a week. Following an event try to have a recovery massage a day or two after to help ease muscle pain and soreness and improve your recovery.


How close to an event can you have a treatment?

You can have a treatment as close as the day of or the day before an event- the treatment will have a different focus preparing your muscles to maximise performance and dealing with any last minute niggles.


What makes the therapists at 21st Century Clinic different from other Sports massage therapists?

Our qualifications ( Level 5 BTEC are the highest in the UK for Sports massage therapist. We are also Soft Tissue Specialists and Remedial massage therapist which means we can deal with injuries as well as helping to give remedial exercises to help with posture/ rebalancing muscle weaknesses and testing for common injuries.