Friday, 4 March 2011

Have you tried a sports massage?

Obviously, this isn't actually me....
I'm an absolute convert.

After weeks of pain and hardship trying to deal with incredible tightness and cramping in my lower legs, last week I admitted defeat and headed to the physio; I didn't have a full blown diagnostic appointment though - they were doing an offer for an hour's sports massage for just £45, so I decided that might be what I needed.

I hadn't ever had a sports massage before, and was a bit nervous, but everything I read online said it was a good thing to do - apparently having a sports massage doesn't just ease tightness in your muscles, it stimulates circulation of blood and lymph fluids (which is why you're meant to drink lots of water afterwards), it helps to break down adhesions in your muscles and can help to reduce scar tissue from previous injuries, as well as increasing the range of motion in your joints.

This all sounds like just the job, so I donned my most conservative underwear, and went to West End Physios.  I had a brief consultation with the physio before he started, and he was obviously very knowledgable, and I didn't feel uncomfortable lying there is my underwear as he kept me well covered under a towel!  He spent an hour on my legs, and said that my muscles were unbelievably tight (each leg was like a solid plank apparently!) and that I absolutely had to start stretching properly...in the right way, holding the stretches for long enough each time, and spending enough total time on it.  I've been told this many times before, and I know I've never spent enough time doing my stretching after a run, but this is the first time I've developed problems as a result.

Now I wont lie to you - the massage was painful.  Really very painful, at times, but in a way that I knew it was doing me good, so I could breathe through it.  It was very thorough, and I felt like ever part of my legs had had a a workout, even though I'd just been lying there, and the physio had done all the work.  I left with instructions for stretching for the rest of the week...including on days when I didn't run, to drink lots of water, and with another appointment booked for the following week.

Here comes the good bit - the next day I woke up and walked down the stairs...with no pain in my calves!  It was truly miraculous!  Well, maybe not miraculous, but I was very impressed :)

I spent the following week stretching much more than I have done before, and headed back for a second massage last night.  The physio said my legs were much better, the massage was much less painful, and he also said that I should find running easier now...and best of all, the pain is still gone.  So, although I can't afford to go that often, I think I might try and add in a monthly session to make the most of my training, and I suppose, what I should really concentrate on, is rather than collapsing on the sofa when I get in from a run, is spending a decent amount of time, properly stretching! 

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