Massage has long been known as a great way to relax and soothe aching muscles, but the proof is in: massage is truly therapeutic to sore muscles, accelerating healing in muscle and connective tissue.
A recent study at McMaster university showed that not only did sore muscles have fewer signs of inflammation. It also showed that massaged muscles were better able to produce new mitochondria, which accelerate healing after intense exercise.
Why you hurt the next day
Muscles feel sore after an intense workout because exercise puts your body through stress–stress that can actually do some damage to muscle tissue. You’d think this would make exercise bad for you, but the theory is that exercise puts your body through relatively mild stress consistently so that it can better handle short periods of more intense physical stress from time to time. The point is, exercise is very hard on your body! This is known as micro-level fiber damage.
Although you’ve done your body some good by working out in the long term, you’ve actually done some damage in the short-term. You can reduce some of this damage and shorten your recovery time by giving your muscles a little TLC after your workouts.
Performance like you’ve never seen before
It’s not just about feeling better. Massage can help your performance and ensure an injury-free journey to the results you want.
As you put your body through the intense stress of a workout, the connective tissue can scar and gather in adhesions–stubbornly sticky masses that reduce flexibility and inflict unnecessary pain as you recover. Adhesions can also hinder your performance, throwing off your form and making it that much more difficult for your muscles to function smoothly.
Massage breaks down these adhesions, stretching the muscle fibers gently. By the time you’re back in action, not only are your muscles stronger, they’re ready to perform at an optimal level without painful adhesions holding them back.
Massage can also help you maintain your posture–a vital factor in keeping your form even and consistent. This is a particular concern in weight lifting, where form and balance can make a significant difference in results. Have you ever noticed that big bench-pressers can sometimes have a slight hunch forward? That’s because their pectoral muscles aren’t releasing the tension as easily as the opposing back muscles–both of which work together to complete that particular motion.
As they persist without stretching or getting regular massage, the effect compounds on itself. As a result, they’re over-taxing the pectorals, causing their form to suffer over time. You may not be a bench presser, or maybe weights just aren’t your thing, but this kind of imbalance can manifest in any number of activities. And you may not be fully aware of the imbalance until it results in a strange posture, uneven results in your workout, or even injury.
Regular massage after intense workouts will help keep your form consistent and allow your muscles to perform at an optimal level.
Book your next massage to coincide with your workout recovery. (Whatever you do, don’t schedule your massage BEFORE your workout! This could result in injury!)
Choose the good life!
Tom Gunn is the blog editor and marketing director for The Good Life Massage. You can hire him to help build your brand and reach your customers by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org