How Soon Can You Schedule A Massage Post-Race?

Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Maybe you ran the TCS New York City Marathon yesterday. Or, maybe you did some hardcore cheer-sign-holding. Or, maybe you prefer marathons of the Netflix variety. No matter how you spend your weekends, a massage is the ultimate treat. But, if you really did get some running done — whether 26.2 miles or 3.1 — you might want to hold off on booking an ASAP recovery appointment.
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“I would wait a few days until the soreness eases up,” explains Patrick Walsh, owner and clinical director at Shift Integrative Medicine in NYC. “Then, the massage will be most effective and won’t hurt so much.”
For most people, a marathon or half-marathon is more than their regular activity level, and will thus take a toll on muscles, joints, and soft tissue. “Micro trauma from running a marathon is like little tiny cuts in your tissue, so you don’t want to rub over them,” says Walsh, who was the former sports-massage therapist for the New York Giants. He explains the massage-avoidance idea like this: “If you had a cut on your skin that you could see, you wouldn’t rub it — you would wait until it healed first. This is kind of the same idea.”
Walsh recommends waiting two to three days. And, he says to incorporate regular massage into your training plan — that's also a recommendation from science. When do you book your appointment, Walsh says to tell your massage therapist that you recently ran a marathon and want to focus on reducing muscle soreness and tightness. This means your therapist will spend a lot of time on your lower body, including your IT band, quads, hamstrings, calves, glutes, and feet. Which, now that we think of it, sounds pretty amazing. So, while yesterday's marathon runners have to wait a few days, we’re probably going to snag an appointment right about...now.
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