5 Rules for Runners and Self-Massage: Stave off injuries, don’t cause them

The longer that you’re a runner the more time it takes to keep yourself healthy to run. I know I’m not the only one with a laundry list of to-do’s to keep this creaky body on this side of moving. Soon it becomes that the time you actually spend running is outpaced by the outside ‘extra’ work you do to keep you running!

angry runner injured

Don’t make this you.


My latest article up on Competitor: “3 Things Under 5 Minutes Every Runner Should Do Daily” explains the importance of including these strength, flexibility, and injury-preventative work into your day. But let’s be straight-up, lots of people have lives and getting the time to just RUN is pushing it. (I’m boring and don’t really have a life, juuust kidding…I have to work and pay ‘dem bills too, bummer. And I think I still have one or two friends rolling around this green Earth.)

But I’m betting you can find a spare 5 minutes SOMEWHERE during the day…waiting in line at Starbucks could take longer. Am I asking you to bust out some planks right there in line? If you do and take a picture of you rocking the core routine in line I’ll totally post it, so send it my way!

Injury issues aside, getting a stronger core and increasing your flexibility will translate into running faster too. Get stronger = Get more efficient = Get faster. I harp on that enough around the blog too.

The self-massage part of the injury prevention is also really important, it gets more-so the longer we run too. I may be 27 but I’m strapped in the body of a geriatric, I’ll probably be rascal-bound by 30…but I’ll take getting my miles fix up until I’m legless. I wish I could afford a professional massage therapist on my ‘staff’, but I’m not there yet and most other people are in the same boat.
peacock runner
In reading the article, I want to follow-up here with just HOW important it is that you know what you’re doing before you go digging around on yourself. You can make injuries worse and cause injuries if you’re not careful. Here are our self-massage rules of the road:

1) Ease into it: Just like you need your muscles warm before you stretch, make sure you’re not massaging cold muscles. Likening your pressure to stretching again, start with gentler strokes and gradually increase the amount of pressure. Your muscles will FREEZE-UP if you go in like a wrecking ball right away. [One guess what song was stuck in my head earlier.]
2) 5-10 Minutes: Limit the amount of time you spend on each area of your runner bod to only 5-10 minutes. You don’t want to go over-board.
3) Cross-Wise Passes: I have tons of hamstring issues, when I’ve got a sore spot I rub cross-wise over the area first and finish up with some flushing lengthwise passes. Don’t forget the horizontal plane, rub side-to-side and then move to the foam roller.
4) Wait 24: The most common time runners self-massage their way to worsening an injury is when they get a new soreness, freak out it’ll be an injury, then go to town massaging and stretching like a madman. This is NOT what you should do. If the pain is so bad it’s tender to the touch, wait a day to let things simmer down. Go the icing route. After that, be gentle, don’t go until you’re about to cry. Refer back to steps 1 and 2. You can self-massage yourself away from an injury if you do it right and are smart.
5) Consistency: Just like you can’t expect to PR running one day every third Tuesday, self-massage works best when you’re consistent. In fact, if you’re spooning (just kidding) spending time with your foam roller daily, you get to the point where it DOESN’T bring you near tears…miraculous, I know. ;)

Until we’re Lady Gaga rich, let’s self-massage ourselves, Runners, to stay healthy. Even just 5 minutes a day. Hey, triple points to the person who walks into Starbucks with their foam roller under their arm! :)

1) Will you commit to doing at least 5 minutes of some core/flex/self-massage work I talked about in my article?
2) Who is consistent with their self-massage and foam rolling?
3) Did you learn some kind of nugget of wisdom from my bloggy-blabberings?

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11 thoughts on “5 Rules for Runners and Self-Massage: Stave off injuries, don’t cause them

  1. Good stuff! I don’t take my roller to Starbucks, but I have “10 Minutes Rolling” as a daily repeat on my list making app. And while I don’t get to it every single day, I do get to it MOST days.

    Thanks for the reminder to go cross-wise, too! I remember this for my IT bands (rock fwd/back on the roller), but sometimes forget for other spots.

  2. A really good time to roll, massage, and stretch for me is in front of the TV. Every Saturday in the Fall, my husband and I love to watch football- and I get my stretch on. It really helps considering my long run is on Saturday. Same with core, you can easily get in some planks, sit ups, etc during the commercials (and they are the perfect length for it too).

    • that’s the time i tell people too!! hehe…it’s like, “i know at some point during the day u’re watching TV…give me some planks and foam rolling!” ;)

  3. I was just thinking about you the other day – this post didn’t show up in my bloglovin feed so I am glad I caught it on facebook….perfect timing for this post too because I having been feeling quite achy in the legs requiring massage of the muscles lol. I already make time for stretches and massage but definitely intend to follow your ideas in your article.

    • oh no!! ugh, i get people telling me that my RSS isn’t updating sometimes. :( will u try and clear, then re-subscribe? i keep asking tech support and they say it should work, but obviously it’s not. :(
      that said, give those legs some extra TLC! :) annnnd ice cream….hehe.

  4. Haha way to sneak in that Miley reference :)

    I need to incorporate more core work into my routine. I was pretty good about it for awhile, but then as my mileage climbed higher during marathon training (to levels I had never been to before) other forms of exercise kind of fell by the wayside. I’m currently dealing with some worrisome calf and shin pain and am going the ice and gentle stretching route for the next couple of days. Hoping things will “simmer down” soon!

    • oh, u take care girlie and nip that pain in the butt!! it’s tricky with higher mileage to not go too far with the corework and weightwork, you DO need it to stay strong but not so much you’re overtrained. balance as always…buuuut 5minutes i don’t think will push anyone over the edge. hehe.

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