Massage for Runners: Pros, Cons, and Types

Pros Cons and Types of Massage for Runners

Massage is an elemental part of recovery after heavy or regular light physical exertions. Runners and athletes generally love the idea of getting a massage. A massage has many physical and mental health benefits, including speedy recovery, reduced muscle soreness, speed recovery, and relieving anxiety.


Below is an in-depth guide and overview about types of massage for runners, including the benefits of massage for runners.

The Pros and Cons of Massage for Runners

Professional massage therapists are commonly part of an elite runner’s escort. Most runners report immense advantages of having a post-race massage, including improved range of motion, release muscle tension, and a deep feeling of relaxation.


Just like any activity, massage for runners has its pros and cons. Check them out below.


1. Decreased Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

DOMS often hits runners two or three days after a major race. It is the sore, tight feeling one often feels a few days after an intense workout or physical exertion. It is a result of microscopic tears that occur naturally in muscles and fascia fibers during these intense activities.

DOMS is highly uncomfortable and can hinder your running pattern due to soreness. Unfortunately, changing your running pattern due to soreness can lead to further injury.

According to this study, vibration therapy (for example, from a massage gun) effectively helps avoid DOMS when used before exercising. Massage via vibration therapy hinders mechanical overload of your muscle fibers, reducing the occurrence of microscopic tears of muscles.

2. Improved Blood Flow and Quick Recovery

Massages for runners temporarily increases blood circulation to the leg muscles. The increased blood flow helps to quicken the recovery process by eliminating waste products from damaged tissues. Proper blood circulation also provides oxygen and nutrients to the muscle tissue, stimulating recovery and regrowth of tissues.

3. Increased Performance

According to the study mentioned above in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostical Research, massage before exercises also;

          • Provides an early reduction of pain
          • Reduces the concentration of lactic acid in the blood, reducing the time until fatigue kicks in
          • Reduces tissue adhesion.

These factors contribute to improved running performance.

5. Massage Provides More pressure than if You’re doing Your Self

Getting a massage from a therapist or using a gun allows you to apply the pressure needed. Massage guns provide the intensity necessary to relax sore muscles.

4. Pain Relief

Simply put, massage provides runners with pain relief while nursing sore muscles after a race despite their best preventative efforts. Vibration therapy using any type of massage gun reduces the perception of pain via the same pain-gate control theory mechanism.


Unfortunately, massages for runners has its cons. In rare instances, a massage can cause;

1. Allergic Reactions to Massage Lotions and Oils

Not all massage oils are good for you. If you are using a massage oil for the first time after running, ensure you consult with a health expert. Some runners develop allergic reactions to substances they were previously unaware of.

2. Temporary Paralysis

Getting any type of massage from an unprofessional physiotherapist can lead to temporary paralysis, interfering with one’s running routine or career.

3. Further Injury

Misusing a massage gun can lead to pain and several unpleasant conditions. When used on injuries such as broken bones, sprains, strain, or swelling, a massage gun can possibly worsen your injury. The massage damages injured tissues and accelerates the swelling rate. The result is delayed healing and increased pain.

If you are a runner, ensure you exercise extreme caution before getting a massage, especially if you have a chronic pain condition. These conditions include;

            • Muscular dystrophy or any muscles and fascia disorder
            • Osteoporosis
            • Conditions that affect your blood vessels, such as arteriosclerosis, deep vein thrombosis, peripheral artery disease, or atherosclerosis)
            • Autoimmune conditions (multiple sclerosis, scleroderma, lupus, and more)
            • Varicose veins
            • Rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, gout, or osteoarthritis
            • Hypertension (high blood pressure)

Ensure you consult with your physician before a massage.

4. It Can be Pricey

Hiring a full-time massage therapist for your professional running needs can be expensive. Even buying a massage gun can be costly. Massage guns range from $49 to $1,200. A massage gun is an investment, just like hiring a massage therapist.

The Benefits of Massage for Runners

According to this research on sports massage, a good sports massage has impressive benefits that a sportsperson expects. These benefits of massage include;


      • Relaxed muscles. A sports massage also removes minor scar tissues or adhesions between muscles and fascia.
      • Increased range of motion. Tense muscles and adhesion tend to affect one’s range of motion. A sports massage increases one’s range of motion by relaxing these tense muscles, leading to normal movement patterns.
      • As previously mentioned, it helps relieve pain. According to Greg Lehman, a chiropractor and physiotherapist, pain inhibits normal functioning and healing. A sports massage solves these by reducing pain.
      • Relaxation. Relaxation is often an overlooked aspect of training. A sports massage puts a runner at ease, eliminating anxiety and increases peace of mind.
      • Recovery. A good sports massage reduces spasm and muscle soreness intensity after a marathon or workout. It also helps reduce inflammation, reduce stress hormones such as cortisol, and improves immune functions.

What Type of Massage is Best for Runners?

The internet has over 30 types of massages which may be a little confusing. Not all these massages are specifically beneficial to athletes and runners precisely. Below are the main types of massages for runners and how to perform them.

Sports Massage for Runners

These are the essential features that come in almost every electric relax chair. They include;

massage for runners

Massage therapists use sports massage to manage, manipulate, and rehabilitate soft tissues throughout the whole body. Sports massage provides a runner with lots of benefits, including developing their skills and technique.


When should a runner get a sports massage?


The answer largely depends on the objective of the runner. Generally, there are four categories of sports massage. These include pre-event, post-event, general sports, and injury-specific sports massage.

There are several times for a runner to get a sports massage provided the massage is administered correctly and matches the runner’s needs.

The goal is to prepare the runner for a race. It could be something as mild as a light flush or over-the-clothes compression. Others prefer a physiotherapist to go in deep.


A physiotherapist can incorporate some deep specific strokes on a tight band or knot. However, they should limit this to 5-10 passes per spot.

It helps to expedite recovery from a race and reduce DOMS. A physiotherapist has to understand that the runner has put their body under a tremendous stress amount. This massage should be on the lighter side but a little deeper than pre-event massage. Going too deep can damage muscles further.


The physiotherapist should utilize a moderate static amount of stretching into the massage. A generally effective approach is a one 30-second static hold after massaging a specific area. Slow, controlled, flushing strokes are ideal for this kind of massage. A flushing massage, assisted static stretching, and cold therapy (ice bath) are perfect post-event recovery combinations.

It aims to loosen tight muscles, reduce injury risks, increase range of motion, and release trigger points. When receiving a general massage, joggers often respond well to deeper and more intense massage movements.

It is vital to work closely with a physical therapist or doctor to get a proper diagnosis. An injury massage is a comprehensive part of treatment since it facilitates the healing of an injured tendon, ligament, or muscle.

Benefits of a sports massage include;

        • Relieves tension and tightness
        • Improves blood flow
        • Increases flexibility
        • Reduce scar tissue
        • It breaks down scar tissues
        • Lymphatic drainage


Some of the common injuries for joggers include;

        • Iliotibial Band (IT Band)
        • Achilles Tendinopathy
        • Runner’s Knee
        • Plantar Fascia Pain


A sports massage is part of the post-race recovery plan. Most runners prefer having a massage before a race, while others don’t. It is crucial to have a professional massage therapist advise you accordingly.

Deep Tissue Massage for Runners

This massage type is closely related to sports massage. It works the entire muscle while focusing on specific spots in the superficial fascia layers and deep muscles. Deep tissue is highly holistic and is best used during hard training periods. A deep tissue massage for a runner improves blood flow to the muscles by stimulating your circulatory system. Runners get a good flow of oxygen-rich flood, which flushes out the byproducts of hard training and provides fresh nutrients.


A deep tissue massage focuses on a few specific problem areas. Since runners tend to have fewer tight spots and interconnected issues, deep tissue massages are often the modalities of choice during intense training sessions. Due to its intensity, a deep tissue massage is not ideal for the first few days after or before a major race. It is best to get a deep tissue massage every month for ongoing recovery and keeping your tissue supple.

Swedish Massage for Runners

Swedish massage is one of the most popular massages and is often linked with pampering and relaxation. However, a Swedish massage can also be beneficial to a runner before a big race. Swedish massage utilize long, flowing strokes of varying light pressure to increase blood flow and release muscle tension. It is a gentler, less-targeted massage technique that is focused on entire body stress.


A Swedish massage is one of the best massages to get regularly, ideally weekly. Swedish massage is intensive enough to manage a runner’s ongoing recovery needs without adding further muscle strain. If you are a regular runner, monthly or bi-weekly Swedish massages can support your ability to perform, recovery, and keep off injury. In a nutshell, the Swedish massage aims to provide the ultimate relaxation, soothe muscles, and reduce stress levels.

Trigger Point Massage for Runners

Trigger point are hyper-irritable spots found in tight muscle bands. They tend to cause muscular weakness while referring spasms to other body parts. The trigger point massage modality for runners targets muscle knots and painful regions in the muscle tissues. The massage therapist the muscle knots and uses deep pressure to loosen adhesion. The therapist knows exact trigger point location and the associated referral pattern. They then apply static pressure to help release the knots.


This massage therapy helps treat injuries and effectively treats calf strains, hamstring injuries, and IT band tightness. Trigger point massage is ideal for runners who want to eliminate chronic pain issues, restore muscle strength, increase flexibility and range of motion. Neuromuscular Therapy (NMT) is a complementary technique that helps to address the underlying spasm cause by examining postural issues, possible nerve compression, and biomechanical problems.

Active Release Technique (ART)

It is a technique that combines movement with specific, deep pressure to reduce scar tissue build-up and relieve muscle adhesion. During this massage, the therapist uses their hand to evaluate the soft tissue’s tightness, texture, and mobility. They then try to break up this adhesion using their hands and movement of the muscle.


This massage technique is perfect when treating a specific injury, especially if the scar tissue formation impacts your body’s ability to self-heal. Active Release Technique is an effective treatment for hamstring injuries, shin splints, plantar fasciitis.

Fascia Work for Runners

The body fascia or the layers of connective tissue and skin contain different vital mechanisms and sensors. In this kind of massage therapy for runners, a physiotherapist concentrates on moving and pulling the fascia. Fascia work is ideal for runners who have problem spots.


The therapist manipulates the fascia, and the tissue becomes more elastic. This then allows the runner to experience less pain. Fascia work is often considered a whole-body treatment. However, it is sometimes done in targeted areas, for example, the foot or neck. Fascia work can be combined with other massage techniques for effective massage therapy.

Use Massage Guns to Give Massage for Runners

Massage guns are percussive therapy devices that target sore muscles using rapid-fire pulses. A massage gun provides you with the benefit of massage therapy at your convenience.


Instead of the traditional massage from a physiotherapist, you can use a massage gun in the comfort of your home. A massage gun helps you relax your muscles and prevent DOMS by increase blood flow to the soft tissue.

A massage gun also helps to boost your post-event muscle recovery. It also helps to reduce lactic acid build-up, helping one manage soreness and spa.

What is the Best Foot Massager On The Market?

A foot massager is a perfect tool to give yourself a relaxing massage at home or on the go. It is designed for portability and efficiency. Depending on the type of foot massager, you can get different levels and levels of massage.

Below is a compilation of the best foot massagers in the market, each with different features and price ranges.

          • Misiki Foot Bath Machine. This foot massager has removable acupuncture Shiatsu massage rollers. It also has infrared lights to disinfect the feet. Moreover, it features oxygenated bubbles to improve blood circulation. Overall, it is a great foot massager with all the features of a typical massage spa.
          • HoMedics Deep Soak FootSpa. This massager has a bath salt dispenser where you can add your bath salts. The massager includes acu-nodes on the base to target acupoints. It also has an easy button control and features a pumice stone in the center to eliminate dead skin cells and callouses.
          • MaxKare Foot Spa Massager. It has a smart water temperature control, allowing heat settings between 35 to 48 Celcius.
          • Gasky 6in1 Foot Spa Massager. It features six brilliant features that make it an ideal foot massager.
          • Entil Foot Spa Bath Massager. It is perfect for the whole family due to its three versatile massage nodes, which are gently, intermittent, and strong. The gently setting is perfect for kids, intermittent ideal for the elderly, while strong is perfect for adults.
          • Arealer Foot Spa Massager. It features heat settings, bubble functions, and three automatic massage nodes, making it an all-around foot massager.
          • Beurer FB50 Foot Spa Water Heater. It comes with vibration massage and bubble functions. Other features include pedicure attachment, infrared light functions, and a noduled footbed. This massager also has the magnetic field therapy unique feature.

Do Foot Massage Machines Really Work?

Foot massagers are designed to provide muscle tension and pain relief. The massager improves blood circulation in the legs, which flushes out toxins and supplies fresh nutrients. Numerous research has been conducted to determine the practicality of foot massager machines. There have been different conclusions, the main one being that the foot massager machines work.


Athletes such as runners use foot massagers to enjoy relaxing home foot massage therapy at the comfort of their homes. Massage therapists also advise their patients to seek alternative sources of physical therapy such as massage guns or foot massagers. These help individuals who don’t feel like going for a massage at the spa. In a nutshell, the foot massage machines work effectively, depending on the usage and individuals. Purchasing the best foot massager also helps to notice its benefits since a dysfunctional or low-quality foot massager is almost as good as nothing.

How to Choose A Massage Therapist

How to Choose A Massage Therapist

If done well, massage therapy can be a multi-faceted treatment. Massage therapists are different, each with different qualities and qualifications. Most individuals prefer a physiotherapist who is more talkative and approachable.


Regardless of your preference, knowing how to choose a physiotherapist and schedule a massage saves you mediocre treatment and a waste of money.


Below are four tips for choosing the right physiotherapist for your needs.

1. Know your goals.

Everyone has different goals and intentions when looking for a massage. Ask yourself what it is you are looking to address. Is it pain relief at a particular body region? Are you simply looking for stress relief? Are you looking for treatment for a medical condition such as tennis elbow? Is self massage will help?


Different massage modalities achieve different results. Therefore, knowing your goals helps you ensure you choose the right physiotherapist. This is because different therapists are trained to perform different massage modalities and specialize in different techniques.

2. Research the different modalities available

It is wise to ask what massage options the physiotherapist offers to ensure you get the proper therapy plan. Learn about the types of practices available in your local area. This helps you determine the best massage technique suited to your condition.

3. What is your preference?

Once you know your goals and the methods available, decide your actual preference and check if the physiotherapist is willing to abide by them.

4. Do your research

This part involves investing time to find out if a physiotherapist is fully qualified and trained to offer the services you need. Is the message therapist trained and certified? The more experience a prospective physiotherapist has, the better they are at doing their job. Their previous clients can also provide honest reviews and feedback on their services.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are different massage modalities suited for athletes. You can choose which is best for you, depending on your needs. The best for athletes immediately before and after a sports event is the sports massage. However, deep tissue is ideal for long-term monthly therapy.

No, it is not. However, it depends on types of massage you are getting and when. The post-event sports massage is the best for runners. However, it is not always advisable to perform an intense massage immediately after running. Generally, after the post-event massage, any other massage modality helps runners feel less muscle tension and reduce scar tissue.

This entirely depends on different runners and their preferences. It is a norm to get a massage during and after events. However, runners often get massages once or more weekly, especially during training when not racing in an event.

Yes, foot massagers are beneficial to runners. Foot massagers are easier and more convenient options for traditional table massage therapy. Foot massagers help relieve muscle tension and pain. They are also portable, making them ideal for constantly traveling runners. It’s really healthy to get a massage for you foot after running even if it’s a simple self massage.

Final Thoughts

Massage is a crucial part of recovery after intense physical activities, for instance, running. Massage for runners is a beneficial idea to help in recovery. Therapist can help a runner recover from muscle soreness and pain. Massage for runners has several other benefits that collectively help athletes improve their skills and performance.


Alternatively, you can get a foot massager which uses the same concept as regular massage therapy. If you opt for a massage therapist, ensure you choose the right massage therapist qualified to help with your situation.

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