Jan 2014 25

Why you shouldn't get a massage (too soon before an event)

By: Dave Wheeler


What does a sports massage do to my muscles?

One of the main aims of a sports massage is to treat hypertonic muscle, that is muscles that have tightened up. The idea is to lengthen them out and to free up the individual muscle fibres that have stuck together, so that they glide properly against one another.

Sports massage also stretches your muscles. Newly stretched muscles have less power immediately on stretching. You can feel “loose” after a massage. Those stretched muscles recover their power - how long that takes depends on a number of things, including whether you’re used to having sports massage or not.

Deep tissue massage, one of the techniques used in sports massage, can sometimes leave you feeling sore for 24-48 hours (again, depending on whether you’re used to it): and you really don’t want to be taking part in an event with muscles that are already sore!


I’m doing an event - when is it safe for me to have a sports massage?

As with running, your muscles get used to the activity that you subject them to. It’s the same with sports massage.


  • If you’re used to getting a sports massage once a month, then having one 5-6 days before your race or event is fine.
  • If sports massage isn’t part of your regular routine, then it’s safe for you to have one 10 days or so before your event, but no closer.


It’s all about getting the right balance between getting your muscles in as good a shape as possible vesus giving them maximum opportunity to recover power.


Why should I have a sports massage before my event

That’s easy: to make sure that your muscles are in the best possible condition. The better prepared you are, the better you’ll perform on the day.


A word of caution

Massage therapists operate under the “do no harm” principle. But we’re also business-people who don’t like to turn away potential customers, so if you ask for a sports massage a few days before a race, don’t be surprised if your therapist takes your custom!

The chances are your therapist will only give you a light massage that won’t affect your performance - but it won’t be the same as if you’d had one a week earlier.


We’re here for recovery too…

As well as helping you prepare for the day, sports massage can really help in terms of recovery, but that’s a blog for another day.

As ever, if you think I can help you prepare for your event, let me know.