There’s much more to massage than candle-lit relaxation, aromatic oils, and luxury pampering. Many people who train both casually and seriously include sports massage into their routines.
But what exactly are the benefits of massage? Remedial massage therapist, Jackie Messaike, is here with the low down on getting greased up. Here, she outlines four key benefits of massage.
1. Prevention of injury
The human body doesn’t like to feel pain or discomfort. When your muscles start to feel a build-up of tension, another muscle will take over and start to work harder to take the pressure off the initial tight area.
Over time our muscles are tightening, and we’re totally unaware of this tension slowly building. This can be the beginning of a long sequence of muscular imbalances throughout your body. Eventually, the body can’t compensate anymore and somewhere you will experience a musculoskeletal problem.
When you have a sports massage, the therapist is trained to assess your body for tension areas that you may have but are totally unaware of. It’s their job to release those tension spots before they result in a painful injury or become chronic pain.
2. Hormonal balance and improved mental health
The most researched benefit of massage is the effect it has on our hormones. When we’re stressed, the levels of stress hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline and norepinephrine increase, causing symptoms such as high blood pressure, anxiety and decreased immunity.
Massage has been proven to lower stress levels, balancing your hormones ultimately relax your body and mind. Additionally, serotonin (the happy hormone) is released, helping to reduce depression and stress symptoms, improving your mental wellbeing.
3. Rid toxins and reduce muscle spasm
A muscle ‘knot’ is a small bunched up group of muscle fibres in spasm. The knot contains excess lactic acid, unusual deposits of protein and other bodily toxins. We get muscle knots by overworking our muscles, through accidents and injuries and from daily stresses.
When a massage therapist applies pressure to your muscles, the primary response to this touch is that the nervous system, circulatory system and digestive system are activated to help rid the toxins from of your body and help to relax and stop that muscle spasming.
4. Prevent delayed onset muscle soreness post-workout
When you start any new exercise program, tight or weak muscles may hinder your training — they stop other muscles from activating properly. These muscles will remain weak while all the tight muscles get even tighter. Before any strengthening exercises are prescribed, tight muscles must be massaged and stretched to avoid injury in the future and to help you get the maximum benefit out of your strength training.