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Cross Training For Runners

Unlocking the Benefits: How Massage Can Boost Recovery for Runners

9 Mins read

Isn’t running just the best? The feeling of pure freedom as you hit the pavement, the rush of endorphins coursing through your veins—it’s an absolute thrill! But let’s be real for a moment. Running can also be tough on our bodies.

Those serious miles we log week after week can leave us feeling a bit worse for wear. Aches, pains, and injuries, they’re all part and parcel of this exhilarating journey we’ve chosen.

But guess what? I’ve got some fantastic news to share with you! There’s a silver lining to all those aches and pains, and it goes by the name of massage. Yes, my friends, getting a massage is one of the most blissful ways to find relief and healing.

In today’s article, we’re going to explore the myriad benefits that massage brings to the table. We’ll uncover the secrets of how massage can soothe those aching muscles, speed up your recovery, and help you bounce back stronger than ever. And that’s not all—get ready to learn about the different types of massages specifically designed for us runners. From gentle Swedish massages to invigorating sports massages, there’s something for everyone.

Are you ready?

Let’s get started.

The Benefits Of Massage For Runners

Let’s explore the incredible benefits that massage holds for runners:

Helps Heal Microtears

Picture this: after an intense run, your muscles are buzzing with energy, but they’ve also endured their fair share of wear and tear. It’s like a battlefield within your body, with tiny warriors known as “micro-tears” emerging victorious. Now, don’t worry, these micro-tears are not as terrifying as they sound. In fact, they play a crucial role in building stronger, more resilient muscles. However, they do come with a sidekick called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).

But fear not, for there is a secret weapon that can help you conquer DOMS and unleash your inner healing power. Enter the magical world of massage!

Massage is like a superhero swooping in to save the day, aiding in the repair of those micro-tears and reducing the severity of DOMS. But here’s the catch: not all massages are created equal. Choosing the right massage technique is crucial for reaping the full benefits.

Studies have shown that a well-timed massage can work wonders in healing those micro-tears and preventing DOMS from taking over your life. It’s all about finding the sweet spot, where the healing power of touch combines with the perfect massage technique to create a harmonious symphony of muscle recovery.

Flush Out Lactic Acid

Lactic acid, the villain of the running world, has a way of accumulating in our hard-working muscles, leaving us feeling tight, congested, and fatigued. It’s like a traffic jam of waste products, impeding the flow of vitality within our bodies.

But fear not, for there is a hero waiting in the wings, ready to come to your rescue. And that hero is none other than the healing touch of massage.

Picture this: as skilled hands work their magic, blood vessels expand, and the rush of fresh oxygenated blood floods into those tight and congested areas. It’s like a river breaking free from its dam, sweeping away the remnants of lactic acid and flushing out the toxins that hinder your recovery.

Improved Circulation

Studies have shown that massage has the power to improve blood flow, acting as a catalyst for your circulatory system. This enhanced circulation ignites a spark within your body, accelerating the delivery of vital nutrients, optimizing oxygen transfer, and removing waste products at the cellular level.

It’s like a well-oiled machine humming with efficiency, ensuring that every muscle fiber is nourished, revitalized, and ready to rise to the next challenge. Your body becomes a sanctuary of rejuvenation, a temple of recovery.

Relieving Tension

Tightness and tension are the invisible chains that bind our muscles, restricting our movement and holding us back. They are the adversaries we face as runners, seeking liberation from their grip. But fear not, for the power to break free lies within the art of sports massage.

Studies have shown that sports massage has a remarkable ability to reduce stiffness, pain, and inflammation. It’s like a soothing balm, easing the fire of muscular tension and soreness. With every stroke, it breaks down scar tissue and adhesions, allowing our muscles to find freedom and range of motion once again.

Increasing Flexibility

A sports massage goes beyond the surface, delving deep into the intricate layers of our muscles. It stretches and lengthens them in a way that mere post-run stretches could never achieve. It’s a transformative journey, an invitation for our muscles to reach their full potential.

Flexibility is the key to unlocking our true athletic prowess. With each massage, our range of motion expands, and the mobility of our joints becomes a gateway to new possibilities. We dance through the trails, liberated from the fear of injury, knowing that our supple bodies are primed for the challenges ahead.

Reduced Stress

The release of tension in our bodies ripples into the depths of our souls, reducing the weight of stress that we carry. It’s a sanctuary of relaxation, a haven of tranquility. With stress diminished, our minds find clarity, our spirits soar, and anxiety dissipates. We stand ready, mentally and physically, to conquer the race of life.

The Science

Please don’t take my word for it. Here are a few research papers to nerd out:

  • “The effects of massage on delayed onset muscle soreness: A systematic review with meta-analysis” – This study investigates the impact of massage on reducing delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) in athletes.
  • “Massage therapy attenuates inflammatory signaling after exercise-induced muscle damage” – This study examines the anti-inflammatory effects of massage therapy on markers of muscle damage and inflammation after exercise.
  • “Massage therapy improves blood flow and vascular function in individuals with peripheral arterial disease” – This research focuses on how massage therapy can enhance blood flow and vascular function, which may be beneficial for runners’ recovery.
  • “Effects of massage on muscular strength and proprioception after exercise-induced muscle damage” – This study explores the effects of massage on muscle strength and proprioception following exercise-induced muscle damage.

Massage Types

Runners can benefit from a wide range of massage techniques, and all are used in different settings and at different times.

Therefore, don’t feel bad if you’re confused about what type of massage would benefit you the most.

Here are the three most beneficial types of massage for runners.

Unleashing the Depths: Deep Tissue Massage and Targeted Healing

Deep tissue massage, a powerful force that resonates with its intense pressure, awaits your embrace. Prepare to step into the realm of discomfort, for it is through this temporary discomfort that true healing emerges.

Like an intrepid explorer, the deep tissue massage embarks on a quest to conquer both the superficial and deep layers of your muscle and fascia. It’s a daring expedition fueled by the desire to unearth knots and adhesions that lie hidden within. The therapist’s hands become the instruments of excavation, applying focused pressure to eliminate these stubborn obstacles. Through this relentless pursuit, tension is released, and the body’s natural balance is restored.

Imagine your body as a vast landscape, with specific sections requiring targeted attention. When pain radiates from the muscles surrounding your knee, the deep tissue massage becomes your trusty guide. With precision and determination, the therapist applies pressure to the troubled spots, unraveling the tension that plagues you. It’s a meticulous dance between therapist and muscle as they work in harmony to dissolve discomfort and bring relief.

But our journey through the realm of massage doesn’t end here. Let us now turn our attention to the art of effleurage, a gentle caress that nurtures healing in a different realm. Like a soft breeze that carries away your worries, effleurage uses softer pressure, employing full-circumference strokes that flow toward the heart. This delicate dance is particularly beneficial for runners recovering from lower leg injuries or grappling with conditions like compartment syndrome or poor circulation. With each stroke, toxins and inflammation are gently pushed away from the distal portions of your body, providing a path for renewed vitality.

Girl in sportswear does warm-up in the park on a cloudy day.

Active Release Technique

Or A.R.T, this type of massage focuses on trigger point with the intention of releasing scar tissue and improving overall mobility.

Picture scar tissue as the tangled vines that hinder your progress. A.R.T. emerges as the valiant hero, armed with the knowledge of trigger points and the determination to set you free.

Through deliberate deep pressure and the incorporation of movement, the therapist skillfully targets these trigger points, aiming to release scar tissue and enhance your overall mobility.

With each precise touch, muscle adhesions are soothed, allowing your body to regain its fluidity. Studies have shown the effectiveness of A.R.T in reducing scar tissue buildup and improving tissue flexibility, enabling your body to heal and recover more efficiently.

This technique becomes the beacon of hope for specific injuries such as shin splints, plantar fasciitis, and hamstring injuries, where scar tissue may impede the body’s natural healing process.

Swedish Massage

Although it may not help with scar tissue or muscle adhesions, this method still has a lot to offer for runners.

Swedish massage relies on long, light, and flowing strokes of different pressure to release muscle tension and improve blood flow without diving deep into the muscles.

This type of massage can help reduce muscle tension, lower your stress level, and improve relaxation without stressing or damaging the tissue.

It’s also great to get just before a race because it’s only superficial and soothes tensed muscles by assisting relaxation while also reducing your stress levels.

When It’s Ideal To Go For A Massage As a Runner

The answer is up to you.

How often and how much massage to get hinges on how much you like—or need—the massage.

It also depends on your training intensity and your budget.

But overall, the more you exercise, the more often you’ll need a massage.

At a minimum, get at least one massage per month if you train three to four times a week.

When the race day horizon beckons, it’s wise to refrain from a massage the day before or immediately after a big race. Allow your body time to breathe and recover without the possibility of post-massage soreness. Deep tissue massage, in particular, may leave you feeling tender, as it delves into the depths of your muscles. Instead, wait for 1-2 days after the race to embrace the therapeutic touch. If you seek pre-race revitalization, schedule your massage 2-3 days before the big event, ensuring your muscles have time to heal and find balance.

Timing is everything, dear runners. According to the wisdom shared by experts, scheduling a massage two to three days before or after a race enhances the flow of your life force. This strategic interval allows your tissues to heal after the massage while also promoting muscle recovery post-race. Yet, remember that the rhythm of your massage frequency is influenced by various factors such as training volume, intensity, terrain, and personal preference. Be attuned to your body’s needs and desires, for it will guide you towards the optimal path.

Additional Tips For Massage For Runners

Here are more measures to make the most out of massage.

Training Intensity:

The frequency of massages can vary depending on the intensity of your training. If you have a high training volume or regularly engage in intense workouts, you may benefit from more frequent massages to aid in recovery. Consider scheduling a massage every 1-2 weeks to help manage muscle soreness and prevent injury.

Race Preparation:

Leading up to a race, it’s important to time your massages appropriately. Avoid scheduling a massage the day before a race, as it may leave you feeling sore or affect your performance. Instead, consider getting a massage 2-3 days before the race to promote muscle recovery and relaxation.

Post-Race Recovery:

After completing a race, it’s beneficial to allow some time for your body to recover before getting a massage. Wait 1-2 days after the race to schedule a massage. This gives your muscles a chance to recuperate and reduces the risk of additional soreness or discomfort.

Personal Preference:

The frequency of massages also depends on your personal preference and budget. Some runners may find value in getting massages more frequently, while others may opt for less frequent sessions. Listen to your body and consider incorporating massages into your routine based on what feels most beneficial for you.

Consult with a Massage

Therapist: To determine the optimal frequency of massages based on your training and racing schedule, it’s advisable to consult with a qualified massage therapist. They can assess your individual needs, evaluate your training load, and provide personalized recommendations for massage frequency and techniques.

Remember, the frequency of massages can vary for each individual, so it’s essential to find a balance that works best for you. Regular communication with a massage therapist and staying attuned to your body’s needs will help ensure that you receive the appropriate amount of massage therapy to support your training and recovery.

Massage For Runners  – The Conclusion

There you have it.

This sweet short post about massage for runners should give you a rough idea of how to proceed in case you decide to get one.

The benefits are too good to pass on, though.

So get one if you can afford it.

Please feel free to leave your comments and questions in the section below.

In the meantime, thank you for dropping by.

Keep running strong.

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