Sports massages for runners

Ruben Oliver Medbase

Author: André Beuchat, Leader of Physical Therapy, Dipl. physiotherapist FH, MAS musculoskeletal OMTsvomp, sports physiotherapist SPT, Medbase Bern Center





Regular sports massages not only improve performance, they also prevent injuries, can still “push” your competition and promote regeneration afterwards. There is only one situation in which it is better to leave it alone.

Well cared for muscles perform better. For this reason alone, it makes sense to take care of them. An important means of doing this is regular sports massage, i.e.: you place yourself in the hands of a sports masseur about every two weeks during the competition season and every three to four weeks outside the competition season.

A sports massage is very individually adapted to the goal of the athlete, depending on the goal the athlete is pursuing: It can take place pre-actively, i.e. before the competition, as part of the warm-up. Or in between, for example during a short break to drink, to loosen up the tense muscles. Finally, the post-activity massage is used for regeneration and muscle care.

The repetitive movements of running can cause the muscles in question to shorten and become overworked. If a tendon “rubs” over a bone again and again, this often leads to inflammation and wear and tear. This is counteracted by sports massage.

The pre-active sports massage

It may last a maximum of 15 to 20 minutes and should not loosen the muscle tension too much, because otherwise the risk of injury increases. Loosening does not automatically mean lowering muscle tone. Therefore, massage is done quickly. Tapes or bandages can have a supporting effect.

Pre-active sports massage serves several purposes: First, it promotes blood circulation. The blood vessels dilate as a result of the massage. As a result, more blood, more nutrients and more oxygen reach the muscle, and this increases performance.

Secondly, it prevents injuries because the muscles become more flexible and supple thanks to the massage. Third, a quick and intense massage activates the nervous system, which puts the body in a better state of readiness for competition. And fourthly, the masseur or masseuse can give the athlete confidence and help to “push” him.

The post-active sports massage

Post-active sports massage aids recovery, helps remove waste products in the muscles, relieves muscle tension and loosens the muscles. It may also help to reduce muscle soreness. Compared to pre-active massage, post-active massage is performed in a rather slow and flowing manner.

What can runners do themselves?

Regular stretching is as much a part of muscle care as loosening the fascia with the help of black rolls and heat applications. Sauna sessions, baths and warming massage oils or creams are recommended. These must be massaged in well for optimal effect.

Immediately after sport, an ice bath or a cold shower of arms and legs is good for regeneration. Some athletes swear by electrostimulation with a TENS or Compex device for regeneration.


  • In case of acute injuries or inflammations, a massage on the affected muscle increases the injury area even more. In these cases, it is therefore better to work with cooling compresses or cold.
  • After an injury, sports massage supports the healing process. However, to build up muscles, physiotherapy or well-accompanied rehabilitation training is needed, and massage does not help.
  • If symptoms do not improve, you should check your movements with your trainer or physiotherapist and, for example, do a gait analysis when running.
  • Incorrect footwear can also lead to incorrect loading, against which massage can do nothing in the long run.
  • It is always important for the whole team that looks after the runner to work together.


Who is Medbase?

Medbase is the largest multidisciplinary sports medicine network in Switzerland and offers specialized sports medicine services for athletes, clubs and sports federations of all activity levels in the fields of sports medicine, sports physiotherapy, performance diagnostics and training advice.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.