As running season approaches it is a must to prepare your body for especially if you’re a long distance runner. We asked Gregory Pike, a massage therapist at Julien Farel Restore Salon & Spa, and author of Sports Massage for Peak Performance, to share tips on how to train for marathons. 1. What are the most common runners’ issue areas when training for marathon or post marathon? The most common are the feet, shins, knees, and hips. Those areas get affected due to a combination of training too hard, over training, and improper movement patterns. 2. What would you suggest that a runner do to avoid muscle cramping, pulled muscle or a stress fracture? Getting a pulled muscle or stress fracture is usually caused by doing too much too soon. If you are just starting training for a race, you need to progress smoothly. If it's very warm during your run, you may be dehydrated. Only proper fluid intake will help. If you are training hard, working with a private trainer for secondary muscle training or a licensed massage therapist for a regular massage are the best ways to fix that problem. Getting regular massages and keeping the secondary muscles strong for an efficient movement pattern is not only the best way to avoid injuries but to keep progressing. 3. What are some stretches that you recommend to a runner do prior to running the marathon? I make all of my marathon clients do an active stretching routine. As a runner, the muscles need to be warm, joints lubricated, and the ability to functionally move through the entire range of motion needs to be efficient is the best course of action. An active stretch for the hamstrings, quads, inner and outer thigh, and circling around the hip clockwise and counter clockwise are the basics. 4. How does massage therapy helps a runner prior/post marathon? Having a team working with you throughout your training has many benefits. Not only will your massage therapist help you get ready for a race and help quicken the healing process afterwards, but they could help give feedback if you might be overtraining or help pin point where you need to improve your progressive training routine. I tell all my clients, it's better to under train and do more rehabilitation massage then get injured and have to start from the beginning again. 5. What’s the best way to stretch during the day while at work so that your muscles don’t tense up? Get up and move! Again active stretching is the best. If you only have 30 seconds would you like to only stretch a muscle or stretch a muscle, lubricate joints, warm up tendons, heat the muscle with blood flow, and fix a movement pattern? 6. What are some tips that you can share for marathon runners or athletes in general for this spring/summer season so that they don’t run into any muscle issues in the coming months? Get a team. A massage therapist and trainer and/or movement coach, new proper sneakers and socks, and start smoothly for the races you want to run (many apps for that). View our massage therapy services here and book a massage here.