The Best Massages for Runners and When to Get Them

It’s peak marathon training season, and our muscles ache just thinking about it! Whether you’re training for an event or just love the rush of the road, massage should be an essential component of every runner’s conditioning and recovery routine. In addition to simply feeling great, it can speed recovery, reduce soreness, and facilitate healing.

But with all the options available, what’s the best type of massage for a runner, and when is it most effective? The answer depends on your unique goals, routine, and body. As a general rule, the deeper the massage, the longer it takes for the body to recover and respond—just like with exercise. Scheduling your massages accordingly means giving yourself several days between intensive workouts and intensive massages, such as a deep tissue massage. But you can close the gaps with other massage techniques that keep your body and your mind in peak condition.

Sports Massage

Sports massage manipulates soft tissue—including tendons, ligaments, muscles, and fascia—in a targeted fashion to prevent or improve sports injuries, making it especially useful for runners. It can also increase flexibility, performance, and overall physical function, reducing your chance of future injuries.

When to get it: Because sports massage is specifically designed to address athletic issues, it can be tailored for pre- or post-event benefit, as regular maintenance, or as a spot treatment. However, it’s imperative that you let your therapist know your training/event schedule in advance, so they can provide the most beneficial treatment for you.

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Deep tissue massage

A deep tissue massage can be just as intensive as a sports massage, though it’s less focused on the specific effects of athletic activity. This technique more broadly addresses superficial tissue, muscles, and fascia, but with sufficient pressure to mend stiff muscles and address “knots” that can disrupt circulation, cause inflammation, and limit range of motion.

When to get it: Because of the intensity of a DTM, it’s best to avoid for a few days before and after an event. Your body requires that time to heal—both after a high-impact DMT and during post-marathon muscular trauma.

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Swedish Massage

Swedish massage is a gentler, less targeted technique aimed at overall bodily stress. It utilizes long, flowing strokes of varying pressure to release muscle tension and increase blood flow—ideal for helping you relax, reenergize, and build confidence.

When to get it: Swedish massage is one of the best massages to get on a regular basis—ideally weekly. It’s intensive enough to manage your ongoing recovery needs, but won’t add further muscle strain. It can be employed in the days before an event or as a recovery tool after hard workouts, when you want to to gently relax your muscles and help them recover.

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But don’t stop there…
Any runner knows that regular stretching is essential for recovery and injury prevention. But did you know it can actually backfire if not done right? Enter Assisted Stretch—your secret weapon for marathon training. With Zeel, the same stretch practitioners who serve pro athletes will work closely with you to develop stretching routines that improve your range of motion, flexibility, and posture; help prevent injury; increase blood flow and oxygen to the muscles; and much more.

Now go forth and hit that finish line like a champ.

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