Self-Massage for Jogging Prep
Over the past several years, jogging has become one of my favorite forms of exercise. Usually I will combine it with paced walking or short sprints of running, but overall I’ve found that this is a great way to stay active, work off stress, and keep my blood sugar levels balanced.
As most folks will learn, it’s important to stretch before doing any sort of workout. Along with stretching though, self-massage can be a great way to pump up the muscles and prepare them to make the most of the activity you engage in.
One of the great things about being a massage therapist is learning to read the geography of the body, particularly as different forms of muscle stress or exercise relate to the formation of different strains, sores, and strengths. In this post I’ll share some of what I’ve learned both professionally and just as someone who enjoys bodywork and exercise.
The Heart of the Legs
In massage school, I learned that the soleus is a key muscle in the leg that runs from knee to heel. Some even call it the ‘heart’ or ‘soul’ of the legs—of course, ‘soul’ makes its name, ‘soleus,’ that much easier to remember.
You can massage these muscles yourself while sitting in a chair with your feet flat on the ground. Start by reaching forward and gently running your hands over your calves a few times. Slowly increase the pressure you use. Ultimately your goal here is to warm up the muscles to a state of feeling responsive to the movements of your fingers rather than tense and resistant. It’s okay if some tension remains though.
Next you can use your thumbs to gently massage the center of your calves. I’ve found that my thumbs like to naturally move in a circular motion. If desired, you can slowly move from the center of your calves, downward to the top interior of your ankles as best you can reach. To finish, simply run your hands over the full length of your calves again, like you did to start. These movements, like all massage, will help decrease inflammation and encourage blood flow in the muscles.
To me, this work always feels like I’m pumping up the muscle. I’ve found that it’s great to move from massage into some deep stretches, and that I’m much less stiff after my jog when I’ve prepared in this order. Of course, getting a full body massage can be beneficial both before and after a good workout too.
If you’re local, book me, and I’d be happy to help!
Pat Mosley (NC LMBT #16882) is a licensed massage and bodywork therapist in the Winston-Salem area. His work is rooted in compassionate touch, permaculture, and deep ecology with the resilience of all Earth's children in mind. Connect with him via email to firstname.lastname@example.org