When you think of going for a massage, you probably envision a tranquil setting with your end goal being to find relaxation and to destress. If you’re an athlete, or just someone who likes to go for a run, a massage can be more than that. It can boost your performance, help you run better and aid recovery afterwards.
A sports massage is a type of massage aimed at doing just this. By using different types of massage techniques, more oxygenated blood can reach the muscles where it encourages the healing of injuries, removes old scar tissue and reduces muscle fatigue. After a run it can reduce lactic acid build-up and shorten post-exercise recovery times. Massage is also being used increasingly by athletes before events to loosen up muscles and reduce physical and mental stress.
Here are a few ways how a massage can improve your sporting performance:
- Grooms the muscle fibres
Massaging the muscle fibres helps to increase blood flow and encourages the draining of toxins through the lymphatic system. Massaging in the direction of the muscle fibre can reduce soreness in the muscle and grooms the muscle fibre to function optimally and with increased power. Massage helps to stretch out muscle bundles sideways in a way normal stretching can’t.
- Increases range of motion
When muscles and joints are stiff and sore, their range of motion reduces. This can lead to a decrease in performance. Massage forces fluid through the joints and muscles, ‘oiling’ them for use. Squeezing and stretching the connecting tissues also helps to improve blood flow and relaxes the muscles. Massage essentially creates extra movement in the muscles and increases range of motion through motion, improving running and sport performance.
- Erase niggles before they become issues
Exercising when you have an uncomfortable pain in one of your muscles can be dangerous. Even if it feels like something small that will go away once you start exercising, it can actually do more harm in the long run. A small niggle like a tight hamstring or calf cramp can easily be resolved by going for a massage. A massage will relax the injured muscle, and the movement will increase the removal of toxic waste, make scar tissue more pliable and bring oxygenation, helping to work out the niggle before it becomes a serious injury.
- Train muscles to switch off
Most people have trouble with optimal muscle activation. A muscle can either be under activated, which means that it is not working optimally as it should during exercise, or can become hyperactivated, which means that it continues to contract even after exercise. Both cases can lead to soreness and fatigued muscles. Massage helps to train muscles to activate and deactivate at the right times, helping them to restore and generate power for later use.
- Speed up recovery of dominant and overused muscles
Exercise is usually a sequence of repetitive motions, working on some of the body’s dominant muscle groups. When one of these groups become overused, tired and sore, another muscle group will most likely have to take the strain, causing the whole musculoskeletal system to become misaligned. A massage after a tough workout session will help to speed the recovery of the main muscle groups, encouraging healing between the fascia and muscle and increasing oxygenation. This will help to keep the whole body aligned and in tip-top shape.
Going for regular massages is a great way to invest in increasing your performance, whether you are a runner, a serious athlete, or just like going to the gym. The benefits of a massage are endless, and it is a therapy everyone can enjoy.