Professional athletes and coaches know that massage benefits athletes. It improves performance, reduces pain, prevents injury, encourages focus and shortens recovery time, according to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA).
These benefits are not just for professional athletes, however. Anyone participating in a regular exercise program can reap the rewards of a good massage, either before or after working out.
Massage benefits athletes in the following ways, the AMTA points out.
Massage therapy increases flexibility.
For best performance, athletes need a high degree of flexibility. Massage stretches the muscle fibers, so flexibility is promoted and maintained.
Massage therapy improves circulation.
With better circulation, athletes breathe more easily and move more efficiently. Massage helps with blood flow, thus improving circulation and enhancing performance levels.
Massage therapy alleviates muscle pain.
If an injury causes pain, you’re unable to perform your athletic best. With regular massage therapy, muscle pain is curbed, so athletes naturally perform better. In this case, less pain means more gain!
Massage therapy promotes better sleep.
Massage benefits athletes by improving their quality of sleep. And getting a good night’s sleep helps athletes perform at an optimal level.
Massage therapy boosts relaxation.
Many athletes have a “Type-A” personality. They’re driven, competitive, and have a hard time relaxing – which causes stress. And stress can affect an athlete’s overall health. So massage benefits athletes by relaxing both body and mind, thus reducing the negative physiological effects of stress.
There are several types of massage for athletes to try. But we recommend visiting a massage therapist who specializes in sports and/or deep tissue massage.
Sports massage often involves fast-paced techniques, stretching, shaking and other muscle manipulations. It’s effective as a pre-workout stretch and muscle warm-up. It’s also used as a post-workout massage to reduce soreness and increase flexibility.
Deep tissue massage includes neuromuscular therapy and the release of trigger points within the muscles. Trigger points “are related to stiff, anchored areas within the muscles or connective tissues,” the Mayo Clinic explains. Deep tissue massage is effective on athletes because it releases these hyper-irritable spots in the fascia surrounding skeletal muscle. And this allows for more effortless, pain-free movements.
Getting a massage after strenuous exercise reduces inflammation. It also promotes the growth of new mitochondria, the energy-producing units in your cells, according to researchers at Buck Institute for Research on Aging at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. So post-workout massages relieve pain, re-build muscles, and speed up recovery time.
Read more here about How Massage Keeps You Healthy!