The Best Type of Massage for Runners

Written by Julieta Hernandez , Posted in Articles, Massage Therapy, Sports Massage

The Best Type of Massage for Runners

Why Massage Is Good For Runners

Running is a huge sport in the US, and runners are constantly looking for ways to improve their speed, distance and recovery time. The act of running causes contractions in the leg and arm muscles and the tissue that connects them (the “fascia”). These contractions are the impetus for the running, but they also can lead to shortened, tight muscles, loss of joint range of motion and decreased circulation in the muscles and surrounding fascia and related tissues. Injuries caused by running (and other repetitive activities) are known as “Repetitive Strain Injuries”.

What Is Muscle Injury?

Adhesions and scars within muscles and fascia tissue are caused by pulls or large tears in the tissue; accumulations of small tears (leaving scar tissue), and/or hypoxia – oxygen deprivation. The adhesions and scars limit the movement of the muscle, which can shorten even more. Nerves and tendons can be affected, often creating pain, tingling and loss of motion.

The Best Type of Massage for Runners:

Massage therapy is a great tool to counteract the negative effects (repetitive strain injuries) from running, as well as prevent future injuries and improve overall flexibility.

Before You Run – Prepare to Win:

  • Swedish Massage (“Effleurage”) for Runners

Best used before big competitions, Swedish Massage prepares the muscles for their next big effort.   Its long, soft kneading strokes, combines with light, rhythmic, tapping strokes, on the topmost layers of muscles. The massage is combined with movement of the joints. It relieves tension without damaging the muscles. It is used to energize, relax and build restful confidence for the race and is an excellent massage to relieve tension and encourage recovery after a big event.

After You Run: Repair Injuries:

  • Trigger Point Therapy for Runners

Trigger point therapy targets muscle knots and areas of referred pain. Therapists target individual knots or areas of referred pain and use deep pressure to help loosen the adhesions within those tissues. Trigger point therapy is especially effective in the treatment of 1 Iliotibial  (IT) band tightness (the ligament that runs down the outside of the thigh from the hip to the shin), calf strains, and hamstring injuries.

  • Active Release Technique for Runners

This patented massage technique uses the movement of the muscle itself to relieve muscle adhesions and scar tissue build-up. The technique involves placing pressure on spots over the affected (painful) areas of the muscles, then moving the muscle around that pressure point. It is especially effective for hamstring injuries, plantar fasciitis and shin splints.

  • Deep Tissue Massage for Runners

Most runners are familiar with ‘deep tissue’ massage. Distinct from ‘deep pressure’ massage (which targets upper layers of the muscle), deep tissue massage is aimed at the deepest layers of muscles and fascia. It is often quite intense due to the deliberate, heavy pressure aspect of the massage activity. Deep tissue massages typically focus on specific problem areas and work the entire muscle (different from trigger therapy). Because runners often have many tight spots and interconnected issues, deep tissue massage is often the therapy of choice during hard training sessions. It is not uncommon for deep tissue massage recipients to report slight soreness or headache after the therapy, which is temporary.

Other Forms of Massage and Therapeutic Treatments for Runners:

  • Hot Stone Therapy for Runners

Using heated basalt stones, this gentle massage allows a lighter touch to penetrate the muscles more deeply, without causing any discomfort.

  • Pedicures for Runners

A runner’s feet bear the brunt of the exercise. Tendons, arches and toes can be painful from the constant thumping. Heels can be callused and rough from friction and moisture. A massaging pedicure can relieve the pain within the foot, as well as alleviate or eliminate the calluses.

  • Reflexology for Runners

The study of Reflexology suggests that the health of the body can be read in the foot; maintaining a healthy foot can benefit the whole body, especially the runners’ body.

Julieta Hernandez

Julieta is the owner of Matrix Spa & Massage in Salt Lake City, UT. She and her staff pride themselves on providing the best massages in a truly comfortable and relaxed environment.

Massage Therapy FAQ’s

The law always requires that you be appropriately covered with sheets or towels to keep you comfortable and warm. If you start feeling uncomfortable or exposed, speak up. Your therapist will respect your wishes and work with you to make the massage session a comfortable one.
No, only undress as much as you are comfortable with. Some people prefer undressing completely, while others prefer to keep undergarments on. You'll have privacy in your massage room to undress before the session and redress afterwards.
It depends on your massage therapy goals. Some people get a monthly massage to manage stress or to prevent health problems. Others opt for weekly sessions if they need relief from injuries and chronic tension.
Licensing and certification mean that the massage therapist can legally practice massage in your city or state. To get this license, they must have performed several hours of training at an accredited school, past the extensive licensure exam, and have paid any relevant licensing fees.
Every insurance plan works a little differently, so your best bet is to contact your insurer directly. Some plans do cover alternative therapies including chiropractic and massage. You will likely need a doctor's prescription first. If you don't have health insurance, or if it doesn't cover massage therapy, you can find massage therapy coupons and discounts on our site.
How much depends on how pleased you are with the service and how much the massage costs (the full price, not any discounted fees). One easy trick is to think about how you would tip a waiter after a similarly priced restaurant meal. This is often 15-20% or more if you received exceptional service.
Let your massage therapist know before the session if there are areas on your body that you don't want to be touched. They will have the training and experience to give you a therapeutic massage while working around ticklish or sensitive places like your feet or abdomen.
Yes, absolutely. You should always speak up if something is uncomfortable. Secondly, keep the lines of communication open during deep tissue massage or sports injury massages. Your therapist needs the feedback to work on you properly and without aggravating an injury. On the other hand, if you are looking for relaxation, it's often best not to talk unless necessary. This lets your mind as well as your body release tension. With the right mindful breathing technique, you may even achieve a stress relieving meditative state during the massage.
Most likely, unless your doctor says otherwise. Prenatal massage can reduce and relieve common pregnancy issues like lower and upper back pain, sciatic nerve irritation, swelling, tension headaches, heartburn and constipation, and more. Let your massage therapist know that you're pregnant so they can use the right techniques during the session.

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