If you do strength work you know it can make you pretty sore the next day. And if you do massage therapy, you likely also know that can make you sore the next day.
Now someone might argue that with proper technique, neither of those things should happen. But really?
I don’t feel like I’ve done enough strength work if there’s not a bit of muscle fatigue and strain going on. And if I’m sore the next day, it’s always, “Well, you pushed it hard enough to do some good.”
Perhaps some people think massage therapy should never make you sore. But like weightlifting, it is perhaps true that a bit of soreness is an indication that something good is happening to those muscles. That’s especially true if your body is tight in some way.
Take the hamstrings. Please. Most runners have about as much flexibility back there as a politician bought and paid for by lobbyists. There’s not a lot of wiggle room, you might say.
Massaging the truth
So it can really pay to have someone dig in there and grind out the tight spots that build up in muscles over time. Yesterday I lay on the massage table as my therapist dug her elbow into my hamstring at the top by my butt and worked her way down to the knee. Along the way I could feel the bands of two long hamstring muscles separate like a pair of bloated guitar strings. “We’re supposed to have four hamstring muscles,” she chuckled. “It’s like you only have two.”
And it hurt to find out there are four. But it was worth it.
Earlier in the day I’d gone to the weight room. One of the routines I do is on the leg press machine. I start at 170 lbs and do 20 reps at 20 lb intervals all the way up to…390! That was my new record for weight and reps!
Of course, I have a long way to go before reaching the levels of leg press former world record holder Sebastian Coe achieved. Reportedly he could leg press 700 lbs. He could also run a 400 in 44 seconds, an 800 in 1:42 and a mile in what, 3:44 I think? It’s hard to recall that last one.
The point is that his legs were monstrously strong. For a man of 5’8″ or so, that’s a lot of return on strength investment.
For me, weightlifting keeps my body in alignment and keeps biomechanical weaknesses at bay. This is true especially for my left knee, which has no ACL inside, and my left hip, which is torqued from running all those miles counterclockwise around the track. Or maybe from doing steeplechase. Or maybe my left leg is just longer. Which is probably the real reason.
So the back and forth of weightwork and massage is vital to my continued health and performance. I seldom do both in one day, so I was curious how I’d feel out running this afternoon.
The answer is, sluggish as first. Plus I was hungry because I waited until 2:00 for my workout and had not eaten since 9:00 a.m.
So I can’t recommend strength work and massage on the same day. But neither would I recommend against it. I still ran my miles the same pace, and picked it up at the end.
And despite the pressure put on my body by the weights and the massage, I’m not that sore. Perhaps I’ll ask my therapist to go for the rolfing treatment next time. Or put the leg press up to 410 to start. See how far I get.
Until something snaps off. Bends in half. It could happen with either weightlifting or massage. But maybe I won’t push my luck, so to speak.