Marine Corps Marathon startClose to 20,000 people competed in this year’s Marine Corps Marathon, and a team of nearly 50 massage therapists stood ready to assist them as they crossed the finish line after running more than 26 miles.

“You never know the condition the runners will be in after completing the course,” said massage therapist Candice Parker, who volunteered at the event. “Some are fine, just stiff with minor swelling of the lower extremities, and others have muscles that are so stiff, walking is difficult.

“My goal was to simply restore as much flexibility to the muscles as possible, by increasing circulation and stretching,” she said. “I performed techniques consisting of friction and stretching.”

This year’s 39th Marine Corps Marathon took place on October 26. The event begins in Arlington, Virginia, and runs throughout the nation’s capital, finishing at the Marine Corps War Memorial in Rosslyn, Virginia. Organized by the U.S. Marine Corps and open to all runners ages 14 and older, the event has been nicknamed “The People’s Marathon.”

According to Susan Osborn-Peters, communications coordinator for the marathon, making massage available to runners post-marathon is important when it comes to creating a high-quality event.

“What we’re striving to do is always go that extra step above and beyond what people expect from a marathon,” Osborn-Peters said. “I really feel that the massage therapy is a great support service for our runners.”

In order to recruit the necessary number of volunteer massage therapists, Osborn-Peters said she contacted every massage school and college massage program from Virginia Beach, Virginia, through Baltimore, Maryland.

“The requirement to volunteer is that you have to be either fully licensed or be a student in one of the massage therapy schools,” Osborn-Peters said. “The Northern Virginia Community College massage therapy program and NoVa School of Therapeutic Massage are our two big schools that come out year after year.”

Massage therapist Parker said she was first introduced to the experience of volunteering at the Marine Corps Marathon when she was a massage student in 2008. Since that time, Parker said she had been wanting to volunteer at the marathon again, and when she visited the event’s website, it was as simple as sending an e-mail and signing up for a shift.

“By volunteering, you not only make a difference in the life of others, but your own life as well,” she said. “It’s always fun to network with other therapists and vendors, plus I’m grateful for all that I have and want to give back to the community.” 

About the Author

Brandi Schlossberg is an avid bodywork client and full-time journalist based in Reno, Nevada. She has written on many topics for MASSAGE Magazine, including “Build A CAM Network” (May) and “Expand Your Practice: More Than Massage” (August).