Spa, back pain, injury, luxury, expensive, feel-good, Zen, vacation. Do words like these come to mind when someone mentions massage therapy? If so, keep reading. Compelling scientific research points to massage therapy as an effective, but often overlooked, training tool for endurance athletes.
And I’m not talking about when you are hurting. Healthy, non-injured athletes who want to improve race performance can benefit from adding massage therapy to training plans.
We now know that massage therapy works at the cellular level to reduce inflammation and promote mitochondrial biogenesis.
Let’s apply this scientific finding to you. You go out for your 35-mile Saturday morning ride. While you’re on the bike, tiny structures in your cells (mitochondria) work hard to convert energy from food into energy your muscles can use to pedal. So, the more mitochondria you have in your body, the longer and harder you can ride.
Here’s the crazy thing: the number of mitochondria in your cells is not fixed. For decades, we have known it fluctuates based on things like aging (decreases mitochondria) and exercise (increases mitochondria.) Now, we are learning that massage therapy is another way to increase these energy-producing powerhouses.
Back to you: You complete your Saturday ride. Tomorrow, you’ll run 9 miles before your pool workout. Monday: rest day. What if you could build up your mitochondria on your rest day too?
With massage therapy, you can.
A Triathlete’s Guide to Adding Massage Therapy to Your Training Schedule
When and how often?
Andrea Shore, LMP at Outpatient Physical Therapy in Covington recommends scheduling massages 1x/week or 2x/month for healthy triathletes.
When you are getting ready for a race, Andrea suggests planning ahead to complement your pre-race training with this massage schedule:
4-5 days before a race - Deep tissue massage following a strong training workout. This is most likely also a couple of days after a long weekend workout. 4-5 days pre-race allows plenty of time to work out any muscle soreness and still have time to recover before the next competition.
2 days before race - Gentle massage following lighter training.
1 day before race - Only a light relaxation massage/stretching session.
Day of race - No massage. You are ready!
After the race - Sports massage to help decrease inflammation.
How much is it?
Massage rates vary depending on the facility and therapist, but the average cost is approximately $60/hour. Many health insurance plans also cover massage therapy. Outpatient Physical Therapy (OPT) offers massage therapy packages with rates as low as $45/hour for RTB athletes at all locations.
Call an OPT clinic near you to schedule an appointment and/or speak with a therapist. www.outpatientphysicaltherapy.com