Post-Run Recovery Tips Part 3: Massage

by - 2:54 PM

Time for the final installment of my post-run recovery tips, and this one is probably my favorite: massage. 

No not this kind of massage...
Unfortunately I am not talking about hot-stone, aromatherapy oils relaxing massage - I am talking about sports massage.

This kind of massage
Both sports and deep tissue massages can be the opposite of enjoyable at times - I will admit I have cried during an appointment before. But working through your connective muscle tissue can be essential to preventing injury and aiding in recovery during training.

How Sports Massage Changed My Training

Back in the summer of 2010, I was playing ALOT of beach volleyball. While practicing for a tournament with my partner, I planted weird and my knee gave out. I tried to shake it off but it was no good - something was very wrong.

I went through the common stages of sports injury - pain, drinking beer and trying to laugh it off, denial, acceptance (= crying in a bathroom stall at work), frantically trying to get an appointment with an orthopedist.

My greatest fear has always been a torn ACL. I assumed the worst had finally happened but from what I could tell, it felt more like a meniscus tear than my ACL. My orthopedist agreed and said that was what he thought had happened so he booked me for an MRI to determine what type of surgery I would need (cue violins).

But the MRI came back clean. "What? How is that possible?" I told him. "I mean, I still can't walk!"

He said something had definitely happened and my knee was still insanely swollen but there was no tear he could see. Slowly but surely, the swelling went down and my knee got better. I rested it as much as I could but almost 9 months later, it still was acting up every time I ran and especially as we transitioned over to indoor volleyball. I was unbelievably frustrated.

Then one of my teammates suggested a sports massage. It couldn't hurt, I thought. I was willing to try anything.

I went to (and still go to) The River North Massage Therapy Center. At my very first appointment with AJ, we discovered the inflammation in my knee wasn't being caused by my knee at all, but my hips. "You have one of the tightest IT bands I have ever seen," she said. "That's what's causing the aggravation in your knee."

Over the course of several, painful months of appointments, we worked through the fascia tissue in my hip (aka my IT band), leg and knee and within a few months, my knee pain was completely gone. I still get sports massages regularly (at least once a month) and go every 2 weeks during my last month leading up to a big race.

Sports Massage Options

One typical reaction I receive when I tell someone how often I get massaged is "Oh that must be nice; but massages are so expensive!"

Typical spa massages ARE expensive, but if you find a physical therapist, licensed RMT or massage therapy school, sports massages should only run around $60-$70 a session. Certain medical insurance policies can actually COVER this type of therapy!

TIP: Look for a massage therapy school in your area.
I go to the actual practice for the River North School of Massage Therapy, but the students in the school offer their services for less than half of what I pay. Not a bad deal!

Home Solution: Foam Rolling
Whether or not you choose to go the sports massage route, every athlete should own a foam roller for post-workout massage. These come in two options:

The Stick

"The Stick" Original Roller

The Roller
Trigger Point Performance Foam Roller
Both are great at breaking down adhesions and massaging overworked muscles and connective tissues. It's a matter of personal preference - I find the roller gives a deeper massage (i.e. hurts so good massage) but it you really have to MAKE yourself use it after a run.

So there you have it!

3 Tips for Post-Run Recovery:

1. Hydration
2. Compression
3. Massage

Coming up Friday, I'll share my recent experience at the MKE Foodie Fitness Fete along with a pre-race recipe for Red Quinoa Avocado Salad. Yum!

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  1. Just stumbled on your blog & live it! I used to be a runner but due to injuries to my left I no longer can accomplish a great workout. I recently had my therapist work in my hips and just like you said it opened everything up. It gets tight often so these tools are great. Can you recommend any videos or tutorials on use?


  2. Hi Jennifer! So glad you love the blog. I actually had the experts in the running store show me the best way to use the roller, but Runners World has a great series of these videos.

    This one is for IT band specifically. Hope this helps!

  3. Thanks a lot for blogging this, it was unbelieveably informative and helped me tons.

    Thanks Again
    Kailua Massage

  4. Actually Massage therapy has its own benefits and hopefully here provided all the information of massage therapy will also give us more idea that how massage therapy or sports massage therapy can be benefited for us. So its really sounds good for everyone. Thanks dude :)
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  5. I was really tied down to my licensed massage therapists Toronto work and it was the reason to which why I did not update this blog as frequently as well.