As an L.M.T at this time of year I see many clients with multiple running over use injuries (plantar fasciitis, shin splints, patellar tendinitis, IT band syndrome, SI pain/ dysfunction). As runners increase mileage and intensity to reach performance goals it is common to create myofascial irritation leading to compensation pain patterns that inhibits bio-mechanical function. Pain in a single workout that heals with rest and change of training tends to be a simple acute strain and a normal effect of being a hard training athlete. But continued or increasing discomfort with training may lead to a substantial soft tissue injury and should be evaluated by a health care professional.
Sports specific massage therapy can be a good tool to help recover from or even prevent an over use myo-fascial pain or guarding response. Myo-fascial manipulation breaks up adhesions and areas of congestion in muscle bellies and along tendon and ligament attachments. Soft tissue work opens pathways of circulation to help with ischemia (lack of oxygenated blood) and allow drainage of chemicals of inflammation (a byproduct of muscle metabolism) and the stretching of connective tissues to decompress pressure and pain receptors in the nervous system. A skilled sports massage therapist can sculpt myo-fascia along muscle compartments to improve bio mechanical function, increase range of motion at joints, free adhesions of scar tissue and improve tracking of muscles as they contract and expand.
When I work with athletes, I evaluate posture, alignment, passive and active movement, tissue health and areas of tenderness on palpation. Even with a specific diagnosed injury I will treat the whole structure to prevent secondary compensations that form with favoring the injured area.