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32 Leg Massage


This article is from the Running FAQ, by Ozzie Gontang with numerous contributions by others.

32 Leg Massage

(John Boone boone@IDA.ORG)

(From Bicycling magazine, pp.76-77, July 1992, Reproduced without permission)


1. Full Muscle Flush

This surface stroke prepares the muscles for deeper work. It loosens the
fibers and increases the blood flow to wash out lactic acid and other
toxins. Begin with the calves. Place the palms flat against the bottom of
the muscle and stroke toward the heart in a continuous movement. Always
stroke toward the heart so the blood containing the toxins isn't traveling
back into the muscles. After a few of these, knead the muscle during the
stroke by working the bottom of the palms in and out. End with the original
flat stroke.

2. Broad Cross-Fiber Stroke

After each muscle group has been flushed, use the same palm position at the
center of the muscles, but work sideways. Press harder than the flush. The
hands are moving acros the muscle fibers, separating them and making them
pliable so the massage can go deeper with the next type of stroke. This is
a great supplement to stretching. It makes muscle fibers less likely to
tear. End with more flushing.

3. Deep Muscle Spress

"Spress" is a Swedish term. This technique is also known as muscle
stripping. Use fingers, knuckles, or even elbows to penetrate the muscle.
[Press deep into the leg where previously rubbing the surface.] Apply
pressure until the comfort limit is passed. If there's pain, work slower,
or do a few palm strokes before spressing again. Knuckles and thumbs work
best. Concentrate on specific areas, instead of stroking the whole muscle.
But remember to work toward the heart.


Initial Strokes

Self-massage uses the same sequence of strokes as assisted massage, and the
same order of muscles -- calf, quads, hamstrings, glutes. But it's usually
less effective because self-massagers get tired or bored quicker. The most
common mistake is skipping the full-muscle flush or cross-fiber stroke to
concentrate on the spress in the sorest areas. If you don't prepare the
muscles, you won't be able to penetrate deep enough. [...] Be sure you're
applying pressure with both hands. Sometimes one side of the leg gets

Going Deeper

The advantage of self-massage is that you know exactly where it hurts and
can key on these areas. You also know when your muscles are loose enough
for deeper penetration. [...] Amateurs usually don't go [deep enough] in
assisted massage, or do so too quickly and it hurts. You can find that
perfect balance. [...] It's best to use both [hands], but fatigue is a
problem in self-massage.


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