After a hard run, your leg muscles need some TLC. While it's not practical to see a massage therapist every time, you could give your calves a massage yourself at home. It's easier than you might think - if you have the right tools.
Let's take a look at why calf massages are beneficial and find out what is the best calf massager for runners.
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Benefits of Calf Massage for Runners
A calf massage can feel good, especially after a run, but that's actually not the main benefit. It can actually make a noticeable difference in your athletic performance.
When you work the calf muscle, blood flow increases, muscle tightness (and knots) disappear, and the tissue because more pliable. This all helps improve your flexibility and range of motion, which can help prevent injuries.
Massages also help muscles recover from workouts faster. You won't need as much time to rest in between your runs because you won't feel as sore. For a beginning runner this might make it easier to stick with the new exercise.
Like other types of massage, a regular calf massage will help you feel relaxed too. It's a good idea to incorporate it into your training routine. Look at the massage as a reward for all the effort.
Note: If you have an injury or other medical condition, please speak with your healthcare provider before starting a massage program.
RELATED: The Best Foot Massager for Runners
What to Look For in a Calf Massager for Runners
As a runner, you want a calf massager that will help you work out those stubborn knots and improve circulation. Let's take a look at the qualities that you need to pay attention to.
Electric vs. Manual
There are two main types of calf massagers: manual and electric. As a runner, either type will be fine, you can choose based on your personal preference. Keep in mind manual massagers are typically cheaper.
A manual massager uses your body weight or muscle strength as pressure to work the muscles. It is possible to get a very deep massage using just a manual massager, but you have to put in the effort. The experience with a manual massager might not be as relaxing.
Alternatively, if you choose an electric calf massager, it does all the work for you. Just sit back and relax while the device gets rid of the knots and tension using different massage techniques.
Type of Massage
Just like a spa menu, you can choose from different types of massages with the calf massager machines. The electric calf massagers can offer shiatsu, roller, air pressure, and/or vibration massage.
Some focus on one type while others are more versatile. If there is a specific type of massage that you prefer that's great, but if you are not sure, the more options the better, although probably more expensive.
Some calf massager may not be designed for wide calves. The massager needs to fit your calf in order to get a comfortable massage. If the massager goes over your feet, then you need to make sure your feet will fit too. (Note: If you choose a manual massager, you don't have to worry about this.)
RELATED: Best Foot Massager for Large Feet
Some calf massagers can also massage your feet. You can kill two birds with one stone as they say. It could replace the foot massager that you already have. Additionally, there are calf massagers that can also massage the thighs or other body parts.
Heat is always a nice feature to have on any massager as it helps to relax the muscles and make the massage more effective. Most of the higher-end calf massagers do offer heat, but it's not a option if you go for a manual calf massager.
For the most part, you will probably be using your calf massager at home, but if you want something to take with you on the go, consider the portability of the device. Look at the size and whether it is cordless.
Some of the higher-end devices are not portable. If you have your heart set on one of the luxury massagers but need to travel with it, you could consider also getting an affordable manual massager or use a massage ball when you are not at home.
Calf massager come in a wide range of prices. Just because a massager costs less doesn't mean it won't give a nice massage. Manual massagers will be cheaper but are very effective.
Top Calf Massagers for Runners
Now that you understand the benefits of calf massagers for runners, let's take a look at some of the most popular options. The table provides a summary of the best calf massagers for runners and more detailed reviews of each one are below.
Cloud Massage Shiatsu Foot and Calf Massager
If you want a deep kneading Shiatsu massage for your calves this is the machine for you. With a simple adjustment it can be used to give the same treatment to your feet and ankles too. It's effective in improving blood flow, reducing inflammation, stimulating muscle recovery, providing pain relief, or just relaxing after your run.
Whether you are looking for a gentle or strong massage, this calf and foot massager can deliver. There are three levels of intensity. It's best to start at the lowest setting and adjust as needed.
It also has five diffferent massage modes - rolling massage, compression therapy, a sway function, heat therapy, or the quiet mode for calming relaxation. Whichever one you choose, the result will be stress-free muscles and a release of tension.
Human Touch Reflex5s Foot & Calf Shiatsu Massager
This is the latest model in Human Touch's popular Reflex massager line. It delivers an even more powerful reflexology massage using its patented CirQlation figure-eight technology.
The Reflex5s calf and foot massager works by circulating the blood from the feet towards the heart. The calves are massaged in an upward, rolling motion to draw blood away from the feet which will help improve circulation and overall wellness.
The base can be tilted so that you can be massaged at an angle that feels comfortable. There are two intensity settings so you can get the perfect amount of pressure. It also has massage rollers under the feet to provide relief to the soles and heels.
The sleeves are removeable to make it easy to keep this massager clean.
FIT KING Foot and Calf Air Massager
This is another electric massager which is perfect for your calves but will also give your feet an expert massage. It has an air-compression massage system, coupled with the air bags inside, to relieve fatigue, swelling, and pain and aches in your calves while boosting circulation and overall health.
It's easy to customize your massage with this device. There are two separate massage modes, 10 massage techniques, and three intensity levels.
While it doesn't have a heat function, many users say it's not necessary because the sleeves are warm enough. If you do want heat, you can get this model that provides heating around the knees, but it is more expensive.
The controls are also handheld so you can change the settings mid-massage if you wish. There is also a 20 minute auto shut-off feature should you fall asleep while using the massager (I’ve been there).
It comes with two extensions so that it can be expanded to fit calves up to be 28.5 inches. You also get a mesh bag so you can take this massager with you on the go.
POP FloSleeve Cordless Calf Massager
FloSleeve is completely wireless deep tissue leg, thigh and calf massager. You can give yourself a calf massage anywhere. While it's best to elevate your leg to the same height as your heart during the therapy, the innovative design gives you the freedom to move.
You can choose from three different air compression massage program modes. Runners will love the sports mode which starts massaging your lower calf then pushes up the upper calf to help improve circulation and blood flow. There is also a full compression mode (the whole calf) and a half mode (alternating between upper and lower calf). There are also three pressure intensities (low, medium, and high).
It's easy to adjust the size of the FloSleeve since the straps are made of safe-velcro (that won't snap on clothes). The wraps will fit calves or thighs up to 20 inches around and the extension pads (included) provide an additonal 3 inches.
The battery is rechargeable and lasts. You can get 15 sessions each lasting 15 minutes (3.8 hours of active massage) from one full charge. There is a 15-minute auto shut off timer to maximizes the battery life.
When you purchase the FloSleeve, you get two massagers, two charging cables, two extension pads, and a two-year warranty. It does not come with a USB Charger Block, but you can use any USB Charger you own.
Pro-Tec Athletics RM Extreme Mini Roller Massager
This compact manual massage is contoured to wrap around your calf muscle and get deep into the tissue. If you want to do myofascial release on your calf, this roller will work better than a massage ball.
It's easy to use. Just apply a bit of pressure (to your comfort level) and roll. You can do it with one hand. When you need to target a tight spot you can place the grip end of the roller on the area, hold for 30 seconds and release. Even the most stubborn knot is no match for this powerful tool.
In addition to your calf, this massager also works well on your hamstring, quadricep, arm, neck, and pectoral muscles. This mini massagers fits easily in your backpack or gym bag, so it's perfect for massaging on the go.
What is the Best Calf Massager for Runners?
The Best Overall Calf Massage Machine for Runners
This Cloud Massage Massager gives your calves and feet the powerful Shiatsu massage that you need to take your training to the next level. With the different modes and intensity levels, it's easy to customize the treatment to your needs.
The Best Calf Massager for Runners for the Money
This roller massager is perfectly designed for your calves. With one hand, you can get rid of those pesky and painful knots. You will be amazed at the difference this tiny and affordable device can make.
Is a Calf Massager Worth It for Runners?
Yes, as a runner you will get a lot of use out of a calf massager. Without regular massage, you calf muscles may get tight and knotted. If you incorporate it into your training routine, you may also see improvement in your running too.
You don't need to have one of the more expensive calf massagers to get results. Manual calf massagers are affordable and effective for those on a budget.
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