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How to Train for a Marathon and Recover Quickly With Massage

Did you know that Massage therapy can help athletes get ready for an endurance race and help with recovery too. There are several ways to have a good marathon experience, but one way is to make sure you're prepared. This includes warming up and cooling down with a massage therapy session. In this blog post, we'll show you how to win the race from start to finish using massage therapy!

Ready, set, go! (sound of a pistol firing in the background)

Let's go!

Springtime can mean different things to different people; to some, it's that time of the year for vacation and high time to "stop and smell the flowers"; for others on the other hand, it's when they need to stock up on some antihistamines to drive off some achoos and sniffles; and for those who are into sports and athletics, it would mean another round of physical activities like marathon! As of writing, we have 8 marathons lined up starting in January up to September here in Hawai'i.

For long distance running enthusiasts, marathon is one of the most anticipated and awaited events in their sports calendar. It's a combination of passion, dedication, commitment and hard work that equates to a successful long-distance run. But not everyone may have what it takes to finish the long stretch; so if you are one of those who don't have an iron will or stamina for long-distance running yet still aspire to run marathons, then massage therapy could be your key.

What is a Marathon?

Marathons is a type of long-distance running. Most marathons are run on paved roads, but some take place cross country or over rough terrain. The standard length for a marathon is 26 miles and 385 yards, which equals 42.195 kilometers.

Although running a marathon is daunting, it has become increasingly popular in recent years. Some individuals are drawn to the challenge of testing their endurance while others see it as an opportunity to support various causes or maintain a healthy lifestyle. For some, marathons provide an outlet for stress and anxiety relief or offer a chance to bond with friends and fellow athletes. Whatever the reason, race participants often enjoy perks such as free shirts and medals.

Given that long-distance running is a physically demanding activity, it usually necessitates numerous hours of training to make sure one is properly prepared. The likelihood of fatigue, muscle soreness, and injury increases with the hours spent training come longer duration runs; however, massage therapy has been shown to aid athletes recover from long-distance running as well as other endurance sports such as marathons.

Anyone can train for a marathon, but not everyone knows how to recover quickly from all the hard work. That's where massage comes in! Massage has long been known as a great way to reduce muscle soreness and improve recovery time.

What is Massage Therapy and what are its benefits before and after running a marathon?

Massage therapy performed by a licensed massage therapist, is a type of manual therapy, that involves the use of specific massages, applying different pressures and stroking techniques, and movements to the skin, superficial muscles, and connective tissues and other modalities to restore balance and promote healing. It focuses more on the manipulation of soft tissues as a means to reduce muscle tension, alleviate pain, increase circulation and flexibility, improve range of motion, improve immunity, to name a few. There are different types of massage therapy such as Swedish massage, Deep tissue massage, trigger point massage, myofascial release, lymphatic massage, prenatal massage, and sports massage.

Sports massage therapy is beneficial for athletes and marathon runners as it helps them recover quickly from strenuous exercise. Sports massages are similar to deep-tissue massages, but they focus on the muscles that endure a lot of stress during physical activity. People who frequently play sports or engage in other repetitive physical activities put strain on their bodies in different ways than sedentary people do. A massage therapist with experience in sports massage can target these areas of tension and help alleviate pain caused by injuries.

When should athletes consider receiving massage before or after a long run or marathon?

A massage once a week during training is recommended for long-distance runners or marathoners, with an emphasis on areas prone to soreness such as the lower back and legs.

If you've never had a massage before, most therapists recommend getting one 5-10 days before your marathon. This will give the therapist time to work at an appropriate depth and help mobilize your muscles and fascia. You should also complete a couple of short easy runs to flush out any toxins produced from following the massage.

Massage therapy is believed to be beneficial before and after long runs.

Pre-marathon, massage therapy can be used as a preventative measure before long-distance runs providing the following benefits:

  • increased of flexibility and range of motion
  • improved blood circulation that carries oxygen throughout the body
  • removal of toxins
  • enhanced performance due to reduced muscle tension
  • increased mental alertness through relaxation techniques such as meditation and deep breathing exercises
  • helps the body warm up and prepare for running
  • decreased risk of injury

The techniques used in a pre-marathon massage are:

  • Compressions to increase blood flow to the muscles
  • Friction to heat up the muscles
  • Gentle and active stretching of the muscles to increase flexibility

And then we repeat the cycle 2-3 times total, stimulating tissue each time

Massage therapy after marathon, on the other hand, helps:

  • recover by reducing inflammation in affected parts of the body
  • break up scar tissue and adhesions caused by microtrauma to the muscle (loading the muscles during marathon training is a stress that causes this).
  • increase circulation, allowing more oxygenated blood to carry nutrients and muscle repair compounds to the areas that need it most
  • decrease lactic acid buildup which prevents muscle soreness from setting in too quickly
  • relaxes tight muscles and improves flexibility
  • promote relaxation and improve sleep quality
  • reduce stress level
  • transition out of the long-distance running mindset
  • achieve better recovery and increased energy levels during training.

After massage therapy, it is not uncommon to feel minor tenderness when touched in the affected area, as well as rare instances of bruising. You may also feel tired and lethargic; however, you should overall expect to feel a level of improved flexibility and range of motion.

A Reminder

Massages are beneficial for athletes to loosen up muscles, but it's not recommended to get one too close to an event. The soreness from the massage can take a day or two to recover from. Hydration is the key, so always drink plenty of water after a massage flush out toxins and help your muscles recover faster.

Another important element is long-distance running and marathon preparation. While long-distance running can be hard on the body, it's also a great way to stay in shape. The most important thing for long distance runners is to make sure you're well rested and hydrated before the race. As an athlete, you may need to drink more, throughout your training and especially just before a half-marathon or other long race. Taking care of your body during the training phase will ensure that you don't hit a wall on race day. Eating healthy foods like lean proteins, fruits, veggies and whole grains will help fuel your long runs while stretching regularly can help prevent injury.

Given its potential to aid long-distance runners for both pre-run preparation as well as post-race recovery, massage should be an essential component of the long-distance runner’s regimen. It can help maximize training efficiency, optimize performance during marathons and even just regular runs, and assist athletes in recovering faster from intense workouts. Everyone could benefit from this noninvasive form of treatment; long distance runners are no exception.


Massage therapy helps athletes achieve remarkable recovery times and gain mental clarity during long races by improving blood circulation throughout the body such as reducing swelling from muscle fatigue and releasing tension from sore muscles. This type of therapy also helps build endurance while promoting flexibility necessary for long-distance running. Massage recovery can also give athletes an additional mental edge as it has been known to reduce anxiety, depression and stress levels – all of which are common issues that long-distance runners face. It can assist long distance runners in preventing mental burnout because it helps athletes relax before a race or long run. Even if you don’t have time for a full massage session, self-massage is an effective way to target specific areas without having to leave your home or book an appointment with a massage therapist.

Massage therapy is an efficient form of self-care for long-distance runners as it can enhance their performance before a marathon and accelerate their recovery afterwards. Therefore, massage should be implemented into long-term training plans in order to maximize potential performance and overall health benefits.

By incorporating massage therapy into your running regime, you will be able to push further and train more efficiently than ever before. Whether you’re preparing for a marathon or setting out on a long distance run, massage recovery is the key to keeping your body in peak condition. You will have better focus and energy during long runs with less fatigue afterwards. So don't forget to include massage in your preparation strategy if you're hoping for a successful long-distance run!

Join us on your upcoming marathon journey by getting massage therapy at Hawai'i Natural Therapy!