Runners Sports Massage by Riktr PRO Massage, Nicola. LMT
Running Massage Injuries – Runner’s Injury, Sports Massage for Runners, Benefits of Massage for Runners
Some studies indicate that massage can reduce inflammation, improve immune function, and reduce stress hormones like cortisol. While massage won’t clear lactic acid or any other waste products from your muscles, it will promote more circulation to your muscles.
In a word, yes! It is very likely that massage would help improve your flexibility and reduce your risk of injury, as well as deliver a whole host of other benefits too! Massage and running go hand in hand, and here’s why…
Running requires sustained repetitive muscle contractions. The greater these contractions are, the greater the force generated is, and the more muscle fibers are required to shorten. These sustained, repetitive muscular contractions translate into speed, power, and distance allowing us to run further and faster. However, this can also translate to shortened, tight muscles, joint range of motion losses, and decreased circulation to compressed tissues. Massage works to elongate the muscles, relieve muscle tightness, restore joint range of motion, and improve circulation.
In a nutshell, massage improves the effectiveness of the circulatory system. This system is responsible for oxygen transfer, nutrient delivery, and waste removal at the cellular level. Our circulatory system delivers blood enriched with oxygen and nutrients, like glucose and electrolytes, to muscle tissue. It then picks up and removes muscle metabolic by-products and waste.
Furthermore, the circulatory system impacts all the other systems of the body too. Therefore, increasing the effectiveness of the circulatory system directly or indirectly impacts our entire body. Better circulation means better delivery of nutrients and oxygen to surrounding cells and tissues.
Therapeutic massage can elicit very specific physiological responses, such as increased blood circulation, increased diameter of blood vessels, and decreased blood pressure. These effects are significant for everyone but are of particular importance to a runner looking for ways to recover faster, prevent injuries, and improve performance. Keep in mind, though, that “therapeutic” massage means a specific type of massage, which involves applying a deep pressure that is designed to be corrective to soft tissue. This is very different than a spa or relaxing massage and it must be administered by a licensed and trained professional.
More Massage benefits include:
1. Dilates blood vessels which promotes circulation and lowers blood pressure
2. Assists venous blood flow
3. Promotes rapid removal of metabolic waste products
4. Improves the oxygen-carrying capacity of red blood cell
5. Improves pulmonary function by loosening tight respiratory muscles
6. Reduces muscle soreness and fatigue
7. Increases/ restore joint range of motion
8. Reduces cortisol levels and norepinephrine and epinephrine levels
9. Restores posture and gait
10. Improves connective tissue healing
It is important to note that the effects of massage are cumulative. This means that the effects and benefits increase with sequential, repetitive massages. Receiving one massage prior to a race will not reap the same benefits as a regular program of massage therapy throughout your training. Massage therapy also works best as a preventative program. Once an athlete sustains an actual injury, seeking medical attention comes first. After a proper diagnosis and treatment, massage therapy may become part of the recovery process.
Massage treatment plans are very individual. The most important goal is to set a regular schedule for your massages whether it is once a week, once a month, or every two months. Assess your running goals and your budget when deciding how often to get a massage. Take into consideration whether you have recurring injuries, are you tackling a new distance, or are you pushing your limits? Next, consider how much you can realistically afford to spend on massage. Look at your training schedule and note the dates of long runs, key workouts, or races. If possible, schedule your massages around these targeted dates. For example, if you are increasing your mileage for a long run every second or third weekend, schedule your massages a day or two after these long runs. Pre-Race Massages should be scheduled 3-5 days before the race and, likewise, Post-Race Massages should be scheduled 3-5 days after a race when muscles are no longer sore to the touch. After assessing your training schedule, budget, and available time plan accordingly. Massage is a nice training reward to look forward to! And, last but not least, between massages, drink lots of water, stretch after your runs, foam roll often, and eat clean healthy foods to extend the life of your massages.
In general, there are four different categories of sports massage: pre-event, post-event, general sports, and injury-specific. Each type of massage has a different goal. As a result, there are a number of right times for a runner to receive a sports massage, as long as the type of massage is administered correctly and is in line with your client’s goals.
Goal: To get the body ready for a race or event.
It is important to keep in mind that every client responds differently to massage. This is particularly salient when it comes to pre-event work. Some clients love to get really deep work the day before or even the day of an event; some prefer a light flush; others respond best to over-the-clothes compression, and some don’t want to be touched at all for the three or four days leading up to a race. It is important to experiment with pre-event work prior to a workout or less important race before implementing it as preparation for a more important competition.
That being said, in general, the day or two before a race a runner will usually benefit from light flushing work combined with compressions, rocking and shaking. Keep in mind that your client wants to come out of the massage feeling light, springy and energetic.
You can incorporate some deeper, specific strokes on a tight knot or band, but try to limit this to five to 10 passes per spot. The focused work tends to be most effective if you also incorporate some movements into the stroke such as pin-and-stretch or Active Release Techniques. It can also be useful to incorporate some dynamic stretching, such as Active Isolated Stretching, at the end of the session.
Goal: To expedite recovery from a race and decrease post-exercise soreness.
When administering a post-event massage—generally within 36 hours of a race or competition—keep in mind that your client has just put her body under a tremendous amount of stress. Muscles have undergone micro-trauma and tearing.
The massage should be on the lighter side but slightly deeper than pre-event work, with slow, controlled, flushing strokes. If the work is too deep it can damage muscles further and prolong how long it takes to recover from the event.
Incorporate a moderate amount of static stretching into the massage. One 30-second static hold after massaging a muscle or region is generally an effective approach. To top it off, have your client hop into an ice bath or cold whirlpool after the massage and stretching. The combination of a flushing massage-assisted static stretching and cold therapy is a great formula for decreasing post-exercise soreness and substantially speeding up recovery from a race or event.
General Massage for Runners
Goal: To loosen tight muscles, release trigger points, increase range of motion and reduce the risk of injury.
Runners tend to require and respond best to deeper work when receiving a general massage. This is where the art of massage becomes particularly important. Pay very close attention to what you are feeling in the tissue. Go deep enough to be effective but not so deep that it causes your client to tense up and fight the work. Some soreness for 24 to 36 hours after the massage is generally fine, but if it lasts longer or causes visible bruising, you have probably gone too deep.
Goal: To facilitate healing of an injured muscle, tendon, or ligament.
Massage on an injured muscle, tendon, or ligament can be extremely effective if applied appropriately. It is always important to work in conjunction with a doctor or physical therapist so your client has a proper diagnosis and the massage is part of a comprehensive treatment plan. Every injury is different, and the massage protocol will vary depending on the type and extent of the injury, but here are a few useful guidelines.
Tendinopathies should be treated two or three times a week. Work the muscle of the injured tendon with deep stripping strokes and perform cross-fiber friction on the tendon itself. It is also useful to utilize a tool such as agua-sha tool or the one pictured below to scrape the tendon. End the massage by icing the injured tendon for 10 to 15 minutes.
Ligamentous injuries should be treated in a similar fashion to tendons. Make sure to work the muscles on both sides of the ligament with deep, stripping strokes before working on the ligament itself with cross-fiber friction and a tool.
When working on a strained muscle, sessions should be no more than twice a week. The muscle needs time to recover between sessions. In the beginning stages of the injury, work deeply around the injured area but limit the work on the injury itself to light flushing strokes. Incorporate light and very gentle static stretching as well. As the injury starts to heal, apply deeper and deeper pressure with cross-fiber friction to the actual site of the injury. Gradually increase the intensity of the static stretch and eventually incorporate resistive stretching towards the end of the rehabilitation process.
Common Injuries for Runners
Iliotibial Band (IT Band)
One of the most common injuries for runners is iliotibial (IT) band syndrome. It is generally characterized by pain at the outside of the knee. A tight IT band can irritate the bursa at the lateral femoral condyle as well as the bone itself.
Treatment should include working all three of the gluteal muscles, tensor fasciae latae, and the band itself down the outside of the leg between the greater trochanter and lateral femoral condyle. The IT band usually requires very deep work because of how dense it is. Positioning can play a crucial role in effective IT Band work (see picture 2). You should also check for tightness in the iliopsoas and the vastus lateralis as well. When a client has an IT band injury or chronic IT band tightness, there is almost always an associated weakness in the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus.
When treating an Achilles tendon problem, start with a deep stripping of the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles, since these muscles connect to the Achilles and can tug on the tendon when tight (see picture 4). Include side-lying work of the deep flexor compartment. This includes work on the tibialis posterior, flexor hallicus longus, and flexor digitorum longus (see picture 5). Make sure you check the entire posterior chain of the leg for tightness, including the hamstring, glutes, and intrinsic foot muscles on the plantar aspect of the foot.
Runner’s knee is characterized by pain behind or around the kneecap. As the name implies, it is very common in runners, although not exclusive to runners. The underlying causes are often muscular imbalances in the four quad muscles. The vastus lateralis, vastus intermedius and rectus femoris are tight and the vastus medialis obliques (VMO) are weak. The tight muscles should be loosened with massage and stretching, and the VMO should be strengthened. Incorporate cross-fiber friction on both the supra-patellar and infra-patellar tendons as well (see picture 6).
After the massage, you should also stretch the quad without putting too much bend into the knee (see picture 7) and then conclude with icing the knee for 10 to 15 minutes. You should also check for tightness in the iliopsoas, hamstrings, and calves of the affected le.
Plantar Fascia Pain
When treating plantar fascia pain and dysfunction, always start with a deep stripping of the gastrocnemius, soleus, and deep flexor compartment. Tightness in these muscles can tug on the calcaneus and increase the tension on the plantar fascia. You should also work on the planter itself and intrinsic foot muscles. Include cross-fiber friction on the origin of the plantar fascia at the calcaneus. It can be particularly useful to incorporate the use of a tool on the origin of the plantar fascia as well. Conclude the session with 10 to 15 minutes of icing the planter itself.
A key part of our responsibility as sports massage therapists and healers is empowering clients with the knowledge and the ability to treat themselves as effectively as possible. The use of a foam roller and other home self-massage devices is a tremendous supplement to the work we perform in the clinic and makes our sessions even more beneficial. Below (pictures 10-17) are a few key home self-massage techniques that are particularly effective for runners.
What Kind of Massages is Best for Runners?
This is my personal favorite type. It’s what most people think when they think “massage”. A deep tissue massage that works the entire body or can focus on specific tight spots. Due to how I run, I get very tight calves frequently. In turn, this pulls down on my plantar fascia. When I feel a bout of plantar fascitis beginning, I get a deep tissue massage on my calves. This usually takes care of it.
Personally, I try to get a deep tissue massage once a month. While pricey (usually between $60-100, depending on where you live), I’ve found it has saved me a lot of muscular injuries.
Active Release Technique (ART):
ART is relatively new to me and I began getting ART from Dr. Kemenosh and his associates after my second marathon. ART is designed to break up scar tissue from an injury or issue and improve mobility.
ART is better if you have a specific injury that has resulted in scar tissue. For me, I became more familiar with it, was when I pulled something in my butt during my second marathon. Since there are so many layers of fascia in your glutes, ART was better to break it up. Dr. Kemonosh has fixed many different issues I’ve had from tight calves to IT band issues, to the original butt issue. As I’m recovering from my fall and tailbone injury, they are helping to speed the process up.
At Home Foam Rollers:
There are a lot of new and fancy foam rollers on the market now. From the heavy-duty R8 to the basic massage stick. Self-massage will offer many of the same benefits, however, if you are like me you’ll never be able to go as deep into the knots as a professional. They are great proactive tools.
When Should You Get a Massage?
I made the mistake early on, to get a massage within 48 hours of a race. I felt stiff and my legs had definitely not recovered. For me, it usually takes a full 48-72 hours to recover from a deep tissue massage. I don’t plan any hard workouts, races, or fast runs until then. If I have a race that weekend, I’ll try and schedule a massage for either Tuesday or Wednesday.
I usually like to wait for a day or two after a race because my legs are sore and tender as well. After my last
Think of massage as a workout where deep pressure can cause some muscle soreness. You don’t want to layer too many sources of muscle soreness so it’s best to wait 1-2 days after a hard workout or race to get your massage.
Running is a method of terrestrial locomotion allowing humans and other animals to move rapidly on foot. Running is a type of gait characterized by an aerial phase in which all feet are above the ground (though there are exceptions). This is in contrast to walking, where one foot is always in contact with the ground, the legs are kept mostly straight and the center of gravity vaults over the stance leg or legs in an inverted pendulum fashion. A characteristic feature of a running body from the viewpoint of spring-mass mechanics is that changes in kinetic and potential energy within a stride occur simultaneously, with energy storage accomplished by springy tendons and passive muscle elasticity. The term running can refer to any of a variety of speeds ranging from jogging to sprinting.
It is assumed that the ancestors of mankind developed the ability to run for long distances about 2.6 million years ago, probably in order to hunt animals. Competitive running grew out of religious festivals in various areas. Records of competitive racing date back to the Tailteann Games in Ireland in 1829 BCE, while the first recorded Olympic Games took place in 776 BCE. Running has been described as the world’s most accessible sport.
Running is not only great for the soul but good for your health.
You’ve probably heard it said that exercise is medicine. Well, it’s not just a saying; it’s the truth. There’s a raft of scientific evidence that proves that regular exercise (150 minutes per week, which is about 30 minutes five times per week)—and running in particular—has health benefits that extend well beyond any pill a doctor could prescribe. Studies have shown that running can help prevent obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, some cancers, and a host of other unpleasant conditions. What’s more, scientists have shown that running also vastly improves the quality of your emotional and mental life, and even helps you live longer. Here’s how:
1. Running makes you happier.
If you’ve been working out regularly, you’ve already discovered it: No matter how good or bad you feel at any given moment, exercise will make you feel better. And it goes beyond just the “runner’s high”—that rush of feel-good hormones known as endocannabinoids. In a 2006 study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, researchers found that even a single bout of exercise—30 minutes of walking on a treadmill—could instantly lift the mood of someone suffering from a major depressive order. In a May 2013 study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise in which rats and mice got antidepressant-like effects from running on a wheel, researchers concluded that physical activity was an effective alternative to treating depression.
And even on those days when you have to force yourself out the door, exercise still protects you against anxiety and depression, studies have shown. Moderate exercise may help people cope with anxiety and stress even after they’re done working out, according to a 2012 study published in Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise. A 2012 study in the Journal of Adolescent Health proved that just 30 minutes of running during the week for three weeks boosted sleep quality, mood, and concentration during the day.
Ever heard someone call running their “drug”? Well, apparently, it actually is pretty similar. A 2007 study in Physiological Behavior showed that running causes the same kind of neurochemical adaptations in brain reward pathways that also are shared by addictive drugs.
2. Running helps you get skinnier.
You know that exercises burn calories while you’re working out. The bonus is that when you exercise, the burn continues after you stop. Studies have shown that regular exercise boosts “afterburn”—that is, the number of calories you burn after exercise. (Scientists call this EPOC, which stands for excess post-oxygen consumption.) That’s kind of like getting a paycheck even after you retire.
And you don’t have to be sprinting at the speed of sound to get this benefit. This happens when you’re exercising at an intensity that’s about 70 percent of VO2 max. (That’s a little faster than your easy pace, and a little slower than your marathon pace.)
3. Running strengthens your knees (and your other joints and bones, too).
It’s long been known that running increases bone mass, and even helps stem age-related bone loss. But chances are, you’ve had family, friends, and strangers warn you that “running is bad for your knees.” Well, science has proven that it’s not. In fact, studies show that running improves knee health, according to Boston University researcher David Felson in an interview with National Public Radio.
“We know from many long-term studies that running doesn’t appear to cause much damage to the knees,” Felson said. “When we look at people with knee arthritis, we don’t find much of a previous history of running, and when we look at runners and follow them over time, we don’t find that their risk of developing osteoarthritis is any more than expected.”
4. Running will keep you sharper, even as you age.
Worried about “losing it” as you get older? Working out regularly will help you stay “with it.” A December 2012 study published in Psychonomic Bulletin & Review concluded that the evidence is insurmountable that regular exercise helps defeat age-related mental decline, particularly functions like task switching, selective attention, and working memory.
Studies consistently found that fitter older adults scored better in mental tests than their unfit peers. What’s more, in stroke patients, regular exercise improves memory, language, thinking, and judgment problems by almost 50%. The research team found “significant improvements” in overall brain function at the conclusion of the program, with the most improvement in attention, concentration, planning, and organizing.
5. Running reduces your risk of cancer.
Maybe running doesn’t cure cancer, but there’s plenty of proof that it helps prevent it. A vast review of 170 epidemiological studies in the Journal of Nutrition showed that regular exercise is associated with a lower risk of certain cancers. What’s more, if you already have cancer, running can improve your quality of life while you’re undergoing chemotherapy. (Want to know more about this? Read first-hand accounts of this and see our full cancer issue here.)
6. Running adds years to your life.
Even if you meet just the minimum amount of physical activity—(30 minutes, 5 times per week), you’ll live longer. Studies show that when different types of people started exercising, they lived longer. Smokers added 4.1 years to their lives; nonsmokers gained 3 years. Even if you’re still smoking, you’ll get 2.6 more years. Cancer survivors extended their lives by 5.3 years. Those with heart disease gained 4.3 years.
*Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider.
Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a diagnosis, treatment, or prescription of any kind. The decision to use, or not to use, any information is the sole responsibility of the reader. These statements are not expressions of legal opinion relative to the scope of practice, medical diagnosis, or medical advice, nor do they represent an endorsement of any product, company, or specific massage therapy technique, modality, or approach. All trademarks, registered trademarks, brand names, registered brand names, logos, and company logos referenced in this post are the property of their owners.