Runner’s Self-Massage

by | Mar 30, 2024 | Fitness, Health and Wellness | 0 comments

After a long run and a good workout, who doesn’t NEED a massage?

When your next massage is booked too far in the future, self-massage could be your solution. If you do it right, self-massage can serve as a form of maintenance between massages given by a trained therapist.

Self-massage can, “take care of the tightness that comes up with day-to-day training,” says Julia Kirtland, the 1997 national marathon champion who’s now a massage therapist in Portland, Maine. Self-massages can also help prevent injuries and speed up recovery so that you can be ready for your next run. (Which could possibly be Catamount Climb 5k in Sylva-sponsored by Carole Lilly Massage)

The key with self-massage is listening to the signals your body is sending you and keeping any discomfort as that—slight discomfort—rather than excruciating pain. What makes self-massage tricky is that, in addition to trying to read what your body’s telling you from the outside, you are also getting internal messages. To counteract the sensations your muscles are relaying to your brain, rely instead on what your hands are able to feel. There’s a level of applied science here that only a trained massage therapist can master, but as with the rest of your training, by listening to and learning from your body’s signals, you can progress.

Here are some self-massaging techniques to help speed up recovery, relieve tension, and prevent injuries!


The massage ball is an easy self-massage tool that provides joint and muscular relief using Myofascial release. It encourages good circulation, increases range of motion and releases pain. To use, lie with the area you’d like to work on the ball and then slowly roll the full length of the muscle group. Ease into the massage and gradually apply more pressure using your body weight. To use: Sit with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor OR lay on your back. Place the yellow ball under your left or right glute. Using your arms and legs, slowly move your body forwards and backwards and side to side for 15-90 seconds. Notice your breathing, keep your legs relaxed. Repeat.


The Massage Stick rolls knots out of muscle, providing myofascial release and trigger point therapy—great for between massage sessions. It quickly prepares muscles for physical activity, disperses the effects of lactic acid following activity and accelerates muscle recovery dramatically. To use, hold each end with your hand and move the stick up and down across the length of your muscles (quads, hamstrings, calf muscles and IT band). Or, while sitting, hold the stick with both hands and use it to rub along the full length of your calf muscle. Start at the base of the knee and go down to the top of the Achilles in a controlled motion, and then back up (also great for IT BAND).


Roll a chilled or frozen foot roller under the foot by starting at the front and working your way towards your heel. Apply deep pressure to each spot for 15 seconds before moving to a new spot on your foot. After that, roll the foot roller back and forth on the entire foot.


A common mistake is to over-massage an already inflamed area. Overdoing it on compromised soft tissue can lead to more inflammation and a longer recovery period. Remember! Focus on a specific spot for no more than 10 to 15 minutes, then move on.

After a few self-massages or a big race, book an appointment at Carole Lilly Massage, where we specialize in massages for runners and customize every massage to your needs. We want you to recover faster and perform your best! We can’t wait to hear about your training or races.