Get Ready to Run! Massage and Bodywork for Runners

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With springtime warmth and sunshine just around the corner, Saratoga will begin to see a lot more runners out and about on the streets and trails. Many of them are seasoned runners and a lot of them will be new to the sport. Regardless of the level of expertise or fitness, it’s a fact that massage therapy and bodywork can play a key role in how you feel before and after your workout.

If you are a newcomer to running, check with your doctor first to make sure you’re cleared to begin your training. The next most important thing is to recognize your limits and don’t do too much too soon or too fast.

Many injuries are caused by overzealous beginners who are eager to make progress quickly. This is how injuries like shin splints, sprains, and hamstring pulls occur. People who are planning to embark on a running regimen would benefit from a Swedish or Thai massage beforehand.  

Swedish Massage is a great choice because it relaxes muscular tension and relieves stress, without doing any damage to the muscles that would require a long “recovery” period before beginning your running routine.

Thai massage may also be a great option for more sedentary people to consider. The combination of being new to running, along with being a reformed “couch potato,” might mean that you have more tightness and less flexibility. Often called “passive yoga,” Thai massage helps increase your flexibility and range of motion.

Of course, beginners aren’t the only ones who fall prey to running-related injuries. Many dedicated runners believe in pushing past the pain, “hitting the wall,” and forging ahead. While this may win marathons, it can also cause injuries that could sideline even the most indomitable of runners.

If you’re guilty of over-training and pushing too hard past your body’s limits, some great massage choices are deep tissue, trigger point, and Rolf Structural Integration bodywork.

Trigger point bodywork targets specific knots and areas of “referred” pain – that is, pain felt in a part of the body that isn’t the actual site of an injury. By using deep pressure, the massage therapist can loosen adhesions and facilitate the healing process by increasing circulation to the affected areas.

Deep tissue bodywork treats both the superficial as well as the deep muscle layers and fascia. While trigger bodywork only treats specific parts of the muscle, deep tissue massage focuses on the entire muscle and is considered one of the best massage therapies for people doing more demanding training.

Rolf Structural Integration is named after Dr. Ida Rolf, a pioneering researcher who recognized the relationship between the body’s structure and function. What differentiates it from more traditional massage is its role in improving the body’s overall alignment and functionality.

Nick Pavoldi, owner of Bodywork Professionals in Loudonville and Saratoga Springs, is one of a handful of Advanced Rolf Structural Integration practitioners in New York State. His focus is on bodywork as therapy and many of his clients include long-time runners who have benefited from the improved movement and circulation, as well as the reduction of chronic pain and improved balance as a result of Rolf Structural Integration.

A body that is aligned, balanced, and working at its optimal level will result in a better experience as a runner. So, go ahead! Get those running shoes laced up and hit the trails. But, don’t forget to incorporate massage and bodywork into your training regimen. Your body will thank you for it.