I tend to be pretty frugal when it comes to my running habit compared to some; I'm still rocking my Garmin Forerunner 305 that I bought in 2008. But, I'm willing to spend some money on a good sports massage a couple of times a year. If I had more in the budget for massage, I'd spend it. A good sports massage from a therapist with running-specific knowledge is worth every penny. Cost aside, people tend to be a little hesitant to know what to expect after a massage, mainly because the typical feedback they hear from their friends about the experience is, "It hurt so good!" Here is what you can expect from a good sports massage:
- The massage therapist will find some areas you didn't know were causing you problems. I am always amazed at how much knotted tissue is found in my upper back and shoulders/neck. If you find a good therapist, they will pinpoint what needs to be worked out for you.
- You will be instructed to drink a lot of water afterward. I haven't looked into whether or not there is a demonstrated link between fluids and "flushing out the junk," but it can't hurt and the concept does have face validity.
- The next run (or 2, or 3) will be characterized by feeling sore and a bit "off."
- Once you've gotten enough blood flow throughout your body (in a couple of days), you'll feel like a new runner.
I think the best time to get a massage is a few days after a big race, not right before. That way, you can recover fully, and enter the next training cycle loose and ready for more quality training.