Sports Massage by Doug Brown, Portland ORegon

Resources - Beneits of Massage Therapy


Benefits of Massage Therapy

As a runner for several decades, I have found that other than having a sensible training plan and putting in the work, the most important aspects of a successful running career are avoiding injury and illness.

Avoiding illness is often related to diet, amount of sleep, coping with daily stress effectively and avoiding overtraining. Avoiding injury is often related to a sensible running program (avoiding upping the mileage or speed work too rapidly) and not ignoring or running through chronic muscle or joint pain. That is where I have found massage therapy, including assisted stretching, to be invaluable for avoiding injury.

Muscles perform their actions by tightening or growing shorter so that the muscle attachment moves toward the muscle origin. For instance, the quadriceps muscles extend the knee by tightening and conversely, the hamstrings flex the knee by tightening. With repeated actions as in running, the muscles eventually get into a chronically contracted state.
If muscles get too tight, they may tear at the attachment point, cause tendinitis or literally seize up with a full muscle cramp. Massage therapy is effective in addressing this chronic tightness by providing a stretch directly to the muscle fibers. The massage therapist can provide many times the amount of stretch to a specific muscle site than a person could accomplish on their own. Massage also provides benefits by improving the blood supply to the affected area and increasing lymph drainage (the body’s sewer system) from the site. A good massage therapist discovers sites of muscle imbalance and pain that often times the individual is unaware of, thus educating the individual as to what is going on with their body. Also, a really good massage will provide for a level of total body relaxation that is beneficial to well being and stress reduction (equals more energy for running!!). The massage therapist’s assisted stretching techniques (PNF stretching) provide for a much greater stretching result than can be obtained by simple self stretching.

Through the years, I have observed many runners and other athletes fall prey to the “quick fix” of taking pills (anti inflammatories), cortisone shots, and/or surgery. The pills and cortisone shots simply mask the pain. They do not correct the underlying problem. Surgery is a dicey proposition at best. Sometimes it is ineffective and sometimes it make the problem worse or creates a whole other set of problems. In my opinion, the massage therapist and related body worker is like the guy in the oil commercial that said “you can pay me now or pay me later”. At least for me personally, getting regular bodywork has saved me from at least one surgery that probably would have ended my running career and has spared me from excessive down time.

Wishing you many pain free miles. Happy trails,

Doug Brown, OR LMT #5737