Pure Physio Blog

Pre and post event massage: a guide

Published on
04 Oct 2019

Written by
Kate Senini
Consultant Physiotherapist

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If you’ve been training recently for one of the varying distances at the Melbourne Marathon Festival, now is the time to remember the importance of pre-event and post-event massages. At a scientific level, both pre and post massages really helps with preparation, performance and recovery in different ways

The types of massage differ greatly from the regular treatments you may be receiving from your physio/massage therapist.  Being specific in the particular approach we take depending on the phase of training, time to competition, or post event recovery means this can play a very influencial role in your physical and psychological performance.

The Pre Event Massage

It’s important to remember that a pre event massage is not the time for deep massage techniques. So don’t expect your event therapist to strip your hamstrings or quads with their elbows. Other factors to consider include the event you’re participating in (sprinters and explosive muscular performance events will require some form of muscle length-tension relationship), your own athletic condition, and what specific areas you need to warm up.

It’s this last point that brings about the importance of regular treatments during your training and tapering phases, as the chances of having your personal therapist on hand prior to an event will be quite slim.

Your regular therapist can keep you up to date on what areas should be warmed up in these massages. You may need more warming up of your calves rather than your hamstrings and quadriceps. Don’t expect the event therapist to do any assessing. Be ready to jump on the table and tell them what you want (or need) worked on.

Your pre event massage should be given 15 to 45 minutes before you start your warm up phase of the event and the massage itself will most likely only go for 10 to 15 mins.

Don’t replace your warm up with a pre event massage. The massage should complement your warm up.

The ideal pre event massage will help increase your blood circulation, joint flexibility and even mental focus.

Unless you’re overly anxious and require some calming down, you’ll receive a massage full of fast, firm techniques that will no doubt include some tapotement to get your blood flowing.


The Post Event Massage

Your post event massage works a little differently. As with most long distance athletes, you have probably just run further than you have in training and hopefully a lot faster!! So recovery is the main aim.

The post event massage will work towards alleviating any joint stiffness, and delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). It will help with improving recovery circulation, and restoring some targeted flexibility.

The timing of the post event massage is ultimately up to the athlete. If you receive regular treatments, then a good therapist will have organised the timing of this prior to your event.

Don’t think that your post event massage has to be within 15 min of completing your event. You can have a post event massage in the following days. It all depends on you, the athlete, and your preference. Standing around for hours in a line waiting is probably one of the worst things you could do in your recovery phase.

Your post event massage won’t be too hard either. It’ll assist in improving blood flow through the muscles. It’s also a good opportunity for your therapist to get an idea of how your muscles and joints felt during the event and also how they have held up since finishing. Getting on top of any niggling injuries now will mean you can get back into training again sooner.

As you can see, the pre event and post event massages can play a big role in your athletic performance and recovery.

If you’re considering your very own pre or post event massage come in and speak to one of our therapists. We’re always glad to lend a hand in your preparation and recovery!

Best of luck in your next event and keep an eye out for one of the Pure Physio team. You never know who you might be chasing down or running from!


About the Author

Kate Senini — Consultant Physiotherapist

Kate, who was a founding partner at Pure Physio in 2010, is now working exclusively in a clinical role. Helping people recover from injury and prevent future injuries has always been her true passion!

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