Completely new to massage? Book your first appointment either well before a race—at least a few weeks out—or wait until the day after. “Just like you wouldn’t test out new socks or shoes on day of race, you shouldn’t experiment with any pre-race bodywork,” says Denunzio. Those who are familiar with massage can benefit from a pre-race rubdown in the seven to two-day window prior to an event. Getting treatment less than 48-hours prior puts all runners—even those who are massage veterans—at risk of race day soreness.
According to practitioners, foot reflexology is a simple, non-invasive method to help balance the body. It has been described as a natural therapy that requires the application of a specific type of pressure on particular areas of the feet. It gets its school of thought from the principle that there are reflexes in the feet which correspond to every part of the body, so by understanding the “maps,” you can do anything from relaxation to improved circulation, and also add a general feeling of wellness. It’s like a massage for your feet…that affects your whole body!
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So what should runners book instead? Anna Gammal, a massage therapist who works with elite runners at the Boston Marathon each year and also massaged athletes at the 2004 and 2012 Olympics, recommends either a sports massage (i.e. targeted therapeutic treatment for the unique physical and biomechanical needs of athletes) or a myofascial release massage (i.e. the application of gentle, sustained pressure on soft tissue restrictions). Both specifically target muscle release and will help improve flexibility, reduce pain and increase range of motion.
In another study, 35 women with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) were randomly assigned to ear, hand, and foot reflexology or to placebo therapy done on sham reflex points. The women kept a daily record of 38 possible symptoms selected from previous PMS research questionnaires. The treatment group reported significantly fewer symptoms than the placebo group, and these improvement persisted for 2 months after treatment. Many women in this group fell asleep during the 30-minute sessions and reported feeling more energetic during the next day. The placebo group reported that they thought they were receiving genuine reflexology, The authors note, however, that it was very difficult to develop a credible placebo control group, which may have been the study's flaw. Normally, reflexology is soothing, but the placebo treatment was described as "either overly light or very rough."  Thus the differences could have been differences in the quality of the massage being administered. The study suggests that massage may relieve PMS symptoms, but it does not validate the alleged connection between reflex points and body organs
“I decided to go into sports massage when I experienced its effects on me as an athlete,” says McElroy. “Despite having no experience as a competitive runner in high school or college, I joined a team and realized I was pretty good. I trained while working full-time and ran my first marathon, missing the Olympic trial qualifying time by 21 seconds.