After a grueling workout or race, some of us look forward to a massage to reward our overworked body. While massage is beneficial for recovery after intense training or competition, it can also be applied before the activity to prepare the body.
The term pre-event massage and pre-workout massage can be used interchangeably. As the name suggests, it refers to a rubdown before the activity, targeting the key body parts you would use to get you ready for what is required.
For instance, a runner or cyclist would be worked on his lower body while a canoeist or golfer would be have his upper body being focused on.
In contrast to typical massages, a pre-workout massage is intended to warm things up. Your therapist delivers a handful of brisk rubs, presses, rocking and stretches on you. The duration is kept short at around 10 minutes so as to keep the muscles from getting over relaxed. You can have the massage just before your event, or a few days ahead.
Below is an sample of how you can include it just before your activity.
Why Pre-event Massage?
Now that we have an idea of what pre-event or pre-workout massage, let’s look at what it can do for us.
Pre-event massage primarily consists of brisk massage movements which warm up the muscles and release muscle tightness and tension. When the muscles are not tensed up, the athlete can work with an increased range of motion and better flexibility. Joints are also less stiff after some rubdown. These collectively could reduce the chances of injury and lead to optimal performance.
Stress levels often build up as competitive events draw nearer. Touch stimulates our parasympathetic nervous systems, which balances the release of stress hormones and adrenalines. To a certain extent, a pre-event massage may help to stabilise a nervous or over-excited athlete.
What to expect
At this point, you might be eager to give pre-event massage a shot. Before you do so, it is good to know:
1. Pre-event massage does not replace your physical warm up.
Rather, pre-event massage complements your physical warm up. Plan your time well, so that you are set up, both physically and mentally, for the activity ahead.
2. The movements are mainly brisk and sometimes jerky.
Forget about long soothing strokes. The fast-paced rubs, presses, and rocking are meant to get your engines started and moving. If it’s too much for you, let your therapist know.
3. The application is superficial, not deep.
You might not feel much from the surface strokes but they are already working their way in to raise your muscle temperature. Your therapist does not go deep in order not to risk making your muscles too relaxed or introduce new pains before your flag off.
4. Your therapist may keep talking with an upbeat conversation.
Peppered with positive vibes here and there, he or she wants you to keep your power on and stay motivated. If you prefer to use this time-out to focus, let your therapist know.
5. Oil or other massage medium is rarely used.
The massage is often carried out with your clothing on. Oil or cream is usually omitted to avoid creating discomfort and impacting performance.
6. Results and experience vary from person to person.
The brief duration of hands-on shortly before your competitive activity do have a big influence on your performance. Just like new shoes or new clothes, it is best not to try out pre-event massage on the race day itself.
We see athletes queuing up at the massage tentage after their half or full marathon, but we hardly get a rub down before the race. Ideally, you would have “tried and tested” pre-event massage during your sports training. Since this specific bodywork can be also adapted to personal preference, you could gradually finetune it with your therapist and work towards your workout or competitive objectives.