Those of us in the know would gladly schedule a massage every day of our lives if we could, and not just for relaxation, though that alone would be worth it. Indeed, massage is one of life’s great tools, all at once eliminating stress, enhancing range of motion, and aiding muscle and injury recovery. Unfortunately, most people schedule a massage only after an injury, unknowing that massage is one of the best forms of preventative medicine around.
The truth is that the majority of us can afford neither the time nor the money for daily massage treatment, yet that doesn’t mean we can simply forget about it. Whether we like it or not, and no matter how much time we spend at the gym, in the pool, or out on the track, our bodies are getting older, and as every year passes, we’re getting less and less limber, less and less energetic. We’re undergoing a state of flux, and as with any dynamic state, regular maintenance is necessary to keep us going at tip top shape.
Massage offers many benefits:
- a marked reduction of inflammation and pain from delayed onset muscle soreness.
- increased circulation that moves oxygen-saturated blood to where your muscles need it most, enhancing their ability to contract more efficiently and deliver higher power. Moreover, waste elimination is improved, cutting pain and aiding shorter-term recovery.
- elevated relaxation and stress reduction thanks to the natural endorphin load.
- fascial release that decreases tightness and increases range of motion.
There are many types of massage – here are the two most common:
- To sort an injury: In this case, you should be looking for massage that targets the soft tissues such as myofascial release or trigger point release. These forms help release tension on your muscles that builds up with an injury, restoring normal length, enhancing repair and rapid recovery. Since all muscles are interconnected via fascia, the best form should use a whole-body technique rather than focusing in on specific muscles or small groups.
- Deeper, long-term: Soft tissue massage has it’s value, but you should still book regular maintenance-type sports massages that really target the deep fibres, breaking down scar tissue and eliminating adhesions and difficult, painful knots. The looser your muscles are, the less likely you are to injure them, and the more likely you are to be more active – which in turn drives positive feelings.
Here is a guide to when you should schedule a massage:
In general, if you’re the average person who doesn’t get a whole lot of exercise, therapists recommend you schedule at least one massage per month. In such a case, monthly bodywork is necessary to limber up. Obviously, if you’re a weekend-warrior, or a semi-pro, you’re going to need to schedule yourself in more. You should also get a massage after any heavy work-out session, preferably even beforehand. Professional athletes need daily treatment especially if they’re in game season.
Finally, if you’re training yourself for an upcoming race or event, you should definitely schedule some maintenance-type massages leading up to the big day. In fact, it’s a good idea to schedule two deep sports massages spaced two days apart, three to five days before the event. You should book another immediately following the race – it’ll feel great and it’ll help you bounce back a lot faster.