As running season heads towards it climax, with athletes getting the last few long runs in the legs before the Dublin city marathon on Monday 29th October, many participants are asking their chartered physiotherapist what is the optimal time before a race to have a deep tissue or sports massage?  The timing of the pre-race massage needs to be considered carefully.  This week’s blog should help you make an informed decision as to the timing of yours.


The pre-race massage needs to be timed carefully.  The massage should be taken close enough to the race in order that the full benefits of the deep tissue work are realised during the actual race, but not so close that post-massage muscular tenderness remains and hampers your performance on the day.  It’s quite normal to experience muscular tenderness following deep tissue work.  The realignment of deep muscle fibres is painful and the pain may last up to 48 hours after the session.  This is an important consideration for booking your pre-race massage.  You don’t want to get caught out on the day having had your pre-race massage the day before and standing on the start line with painful calves or hamstrings!  Conversely, if you’ve had your pre-race massage over a week out from the start of the race you may feel that the benefits of the deep tissue work have worn off by the time you reach the starting line – a situation which you also want to avoid.  You really need to seize the window 3-5 days before the start of the race to have you’re massage, particularly if you’re a first timer and are unsure how your body will react to the work.

These rules change slightly for individuals who are used to getting deep tissue and sports massage before races.  Bodies respond differently for everyone and athletes having regular maintenance work tend to recover quicker from deep tissue work.  Such athletes tend to know their own recovery times after sessions but very often benefit more from work performed two days or even the day before the big race.

There are a few more long runs to get out of the way before the big race, so perhaps use one of yours as a trial by booking a sports massage before it and learning how you’re body reacts so you’re not caught out on the big day in Dublin on 29th October?