Who are Massages For?
While it’s often thought that most professional athletes use massages to optimize their performance, anyone who has pushed their physical limits, whether on purpose or by accident, would see tremendous benefits from a massage. Whether it’s headaches, sleeplessness, neck pain, jaw pain, carpal tunnel, back pain, or muscle pain of any kind, you could benefit from a massage.
Here are the top five reasons why you should seek out a massage today:
1. Improves Sleeping Habits
Lack of sleep can leave you feeling tired, drained, and unfocused. It can also cause poor cognitive function and a weakened immune system. Muscles aren’t built during your workout, they’re built during rest periods; without proper rest and recovery, you won’t be able to maximize the effectiveness of your workout. A study on back pain, published in the International Journal of Neuroscience, demonstrated that subjects receiving massages experienced both improved sleep and an increase in serotonin levels.[i]
2. Relieves Muscle Soreness
You know the soreness you feel the days after a tough work out? That feeling is referred to as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). DOMS is a product of inflammation caused by microscopic tears in connective tissue, resulting in pain. These tears are good, as they help rebuild muscle, but getting stronger doesn’t have to be painful. Massages can help decrease the symptoms of DOMS by flushing inflammation from the tissue and relieving the pressure acting on the pain receptors. Decreased symptoms mean you can get back to training quicker and with a better sense of well-being.
3. Reduces Injury Risk
Heavily exercised muscles can lose their ability to relax, resulting in a loss of flexibility. This creates a high risk for connective tissue injury. Massages improve blood flow to tissue, aiding in the removal of metabolic waste, increasing oxygen supply, eliminating lactic acid build up, and improving cellular nutrition. The result is increased elasticity, better power, and improved performance.
4. Speeds Recovery Time
Unfortunately, injuries happen. When they do, a registered massage therapist (RMT) can help speed up your recovery. The formation of scar tissue is the body’s natural response to injury. Massages work to break up that scar tissue and flush out inflammation. Trigger point formation (a small knot in your muscle) is also common after an injury. Regular massages help prevent and treat painful trigger points. For best results, look for a team approach to health care. Ideally, your therapist (physiotherapist or athletic therapist) works directly with your RMT, giving you the best possible outcome.
5. Decreases Anxiety and Improves Well-being
The body is only as strong as the mind. In some cases, a stressed athlete is just as hindered as an injured athlete. Fear, anticipation, and worry are all physical reactions to experiencing stress. This results in a change in parasympathetic activity. The fight or flight response kicks in, blood pressure and heart rate increase, adrenaline begins to rush, and cortisol production goes through the roof. Massages can reverse these effects by slowing heart rate and decreasing blood pressure. Regular massages can help remove those initial fears to combat those initial responses. Massages can increase the production of serotonin and endorphins, resulting in a better mood, clearer mind, and overall greater sense of well-being.