Massage and Mobility for Runners: How to Optimize Recovery!

Guest Post by Erin Kennedy Dalisay, DPT, PT, OCS

Did you just start training for a long distance running event?

Or perhaps you are an experienced runner and want to know how to avoid getting injured while doing what you love!

Recovery is one of the MOST important aspects to becoming a successful runner. But it can certainly be hard to know what the best recovery looks like.

There are many messages on social media, in running magazines, and from various interpersonal sources about recovery.

But what does science have to say?

The purpose of this article is to give you a better idea of how to best utilize two of the most common recovery tools into your training: massage and mobility training.


We all know it. We all love it. Massage is a wonderful way of addressing our physical stiffness and pain while also promoting tremendous stress relief.

There are many versions of massage that carry benefits to be utilized by a skilled massage therapist. Several studies have even found that regular massage therapy can even help runners stay more consistent in their training plan!

Mobility Training

Maintaining flexible and mobile joints can be a great way to prevent not only running injuries – but many other types of pain to help you maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Your range of motion is key during each phase of your running gait. Mobility is a precursor to ensuring that you are moving well and efficiently.

Each joint has a range of optimal mobility during the phases of your running gait (Hint: there are about 5 phases!). And if one of your joints is stiff, then it can impact all the other joints who have to “make up” for that lack of mobility.

But not to worry – there are certainly methods of improving your mobility and your running!

Massage Plus Mobility

Two of the most common reasons for reduced mobility are muscle tightness or joint stiffness. Massage is a wonderful way to help reduce muscular tension, promote blood flow to an area, and provide top-down relaxation.

Joint stiffness can typically be aided with a targeted stretching or exercise routine. If you are unable to complete this on your own – then physical therapists and chiropractors can utilize joint mobilization techniques to kick start that process of mobility restoration.

Timing of Treatment

There are benefits to both a pre and post race massage. If you are seeking care prior to your big event, then the focus will be to promote more mobility. This may involve more pressure from your massage therapist. And the mobility exercises will target pushing the limits of your motion. This can help set you up to run your best race!

Post race massage and mobility exercises may look more restorative and healing in nature – therefore massage and mobility exercises may be more gentle to promote return to pre-race mobility. Performing these after your race may help reduce muscle soreness and provide both mental and physical stress reduction. All to help promote your best recovery!

However, this should be very individualized to you as a runner – so it’s best to discuss with your massage therapist or physical therapist about how you personally benefit from these modalities.

Wish to learn more? Hoping to incorporate more mobility in your training?

Join us for a complimentary Mobility Workshop on October 15th at 5:00 pm!

ATTN: Marine Corps Marathoners! This would be a wonderful way to set yourself up for having a great race on October 30th. Hope to see you there!

About Erin

My name is Erin and I am a proud Fairlington Resident! My business, RunWell Clinic is a mobile physical therapy practice that specializes in the treatment and prevention of running related injuries. I am an experienced marathoner and have a mission to help foster a stronger and healthier community of runners. I am looking forward to meeting you at the Mobility Workshop!

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