How to win a race - take the first step with the help of a massage therapist.

Triathlon is a demanding sport as it requires you to perform 3 different sports at your peak athletic potential. Triathlon places the body under a lot of mechanical, muscular, and mental stress and during an event you will be working lots of different muscle groups. In the swim you will be working the shoulder, back, and, neck muscles as well as your buttocks, hips and legs. On the bike you will be working the legs and lower back as well as straining the shoulder and neck muscles by staying down on your tri-bars for long periods of time. On the run you will be again working the legs and lower back, and as you get tired there may be some tension in your shoulder and neck muscles.

If for example, you have raced a long distance triathlon, such as an ironman-distance race, you could well be working your muscles for anywhere between 9 to 17 hours!!! And that means some very tired muscle groups at the end of the race.

Tight and tired muscles do not work well and are more prone to injury.

Sports massage differs from other types of massage. It is more specific, the muscles are worked deeper, and various stretching techniques are applied to benefit the athlete. A part of the massage  focuses on trigger points within the muscles, and breaks down adhesions and the build up of scar tissue – all of which can affect the function of key muscle groups when racing and training. Regular sports massage treatment during the season (and the off-season) should form a part of your overall training plan so that you can help your tired muscles recover and relax, to improve flexibility, to prevent injuries, and also to be able to work your muscles harder in future training sessions and races.            


When to have massage?

For pre-race massage we would advise seeing a therapist 3-4 days before your race. This will give the body adequate time to recover from and to gain the full benefits of the massage and therefore you will get to the start line feeling revitalised and refreshed. You can also have treatment a couple of days or the day before an event but be aware of how your body reacts and recovers from such treatment – our advice would be to tell the therapist that you have a race approaching and that you only want light work and stretching performed. If there are any problems that are found you can always address these after race-day.

Most of the clients we see benefit the most from receiving treatment either before a race or at the end of a hard training block.

Post-event massage is always an important part of the post-race recovery phase. Again, you would have placed the body under a lot of mechanical stress during the race and will no doubt come away from the race with aching muscles and feeling tired. A post-race massage works best 2-3 days after the event. The main aim of post-race massage is to aid recovery.  The tired muscles are stretched, the metabolic waste and toxins that build up in muscles are released and the nutrients in the fresh blood is pumped into the muscles, which helps speed up the recovery process by repairing muscle damage, controlling inflammation and any associated pain.


The role of massage during training period is supplemental to your normal training, in a very similar way to stretching, yoga or core stability work - it eases the stress of training on the muscles, and returns them to normal resting length allowing your muscles to work at their optimal potential. You may feel the need to have regular treatment on a weekly, fortnightly, or monthly basis – this is great in helping in recovery from training, improves flexibility, prevents injuries, and will make sure that the muscles are relaxed for future training sessions.

It is advisable to have massage during rest periods, or alternatively after the heaviest training session of the week to gain the best benefit.

 Some triathletes will alternate weekly between getting their back, shoulders, neck and arms treated, i.e.  if they have been doing a lot of swimming, or having the lower back, glutes and legs treated if they are doing lots of cycling and running. Sometimes it is important to focus on specific areas  – for example, extra emphasis may be placed on calf muscles after heavy hill training on the bike or running. A good massage therapist will also be able to advise on specific stretching techniques as well.

Speak to your massage therapist about your training, your goals, and how your body feels - they will be able to advise on the number of sessions that they feel you should be getting both during the season and in the off-season.

The major benefit of regular treatment is that we are able to detect slight niggles before they develop into injuries.


Can massage help with injuries?

Common injuries that can occur during triathlon training and racing are swimmers shoulder, lower back pain, illiotibial band syndrome (runners knee), hamstring strains, achilles tendinitis, shin splints, and plantar fasciitis. Sports massage has a role in the recovery and prevention of injuries. Your massage therapist will be able to assist you with treating the affected area, to give advice about recovery times and rehabilitation exercises in order  to get you back to training and racing as soon as possible. There is no point in training or racing whilst injured, you will only waste your time and effort, and most likely make the problem even worse. Often times, treatment and rehabilitation exercises are what is needed to break the cycle of recurrent injuries.

 Having massage as a preventative measure is very beneficial, not only for the reduced likelihood of injuries before important events, but also psychologically, as it enforces a very positive picture in your mind, increases confidence, and reassures you that you are in peak condition - you can go out there and perform at your very best.

Regular massage will enable you to perform at your absolute best - all season long.


Finding the right massage therapist for you.

As a massage therapists who treats athletes on a regular basis we feel it is important to know the sports from all angles. We learn new and beneficial tips each week from the athletes we treat, that will help us as therapists. We are able to advise clients on many aspects of sports – training, nutrition, and recovery to name a few. Finding a massage therapist you are comfortable with, who understands your needs as an athlete and who is able to tailor the treatment to your specific needs can be the difference between a mediocre and a fantastic season. If you can find a therapist who has knowledge of sports, they will have a better understanding of the demands of training and competition. Don't be afraid to ask questions during the sessions.

One of the important jobs of a massage therapist is to reassure the athlete that the body is in top condition, and they will have a good race - knowing that you are on the start line in peak condition is an excellent confidence booster and could be the difference between a good race and a brilliant race.


Although the advice here is aimed at triathletes the same principles apply to all sports. We treat a range of sportsmen and women and if we don't have an understanding of the sport we will ask lots of questions during the session and also go away and research the sport so we have a better understanding which will then benefit the client in the long run.


Happy Training and Racing


To book an appointment with one of our experienced Sports Massage Therapists, please call the clinic on 01932 429584 or email us This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . You can also book online via link below.


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I have been working with Dr Mika Janhunen of Shepperton Chirorpactic Clinic for four years. During this time he has not only been able to help me overcome various niggling injuries and to enjoy better health, but has been able to improve the performance of a number of my golf coaching clients as well. His detailed knowledge of the human body and the complexity of the golf swing movement pattern is virtually unrivalled in terms of results that I have ever seen. I will continue to refer my players to see Mika, and would encourage anyone to do the same.
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