Making massage a regular feature in your fitness regime has many benefits.
Working out hard and regularly takes its toll on your muscles.
Working specific muscle groups too much and/or working out too often without sufficient recovery time tires the muscles and can cause damage. Overuse is the most common reason for sports injury.
An injury can develop over a long period of time undetected and only manifest as it reaches a critical level, particularly if you’ve been ignoring possible warning signs.
If you skip out on the warm up and warm down part of your routine, you expose your muscles to the risk of injury. Warming up the muscles in readiness for the effort they are about to undergo reduces their vulnerability to damage. Warming down after your workout supports the recovery process.
Making stretching part of your warm down and ensuring to rest sufficiently following workouts also contribute greatly to your recovery process.
Pay attention to the details will pay dividends to your performance!
Too much of one type of training that relies heavily on one set of specific muscles, ignoring the need for sufficient rest in between workouts, or tight muscles that are persistently insufficiently warmed up and down are common causes of injury.
However, taking a more holistic view of your lifestyle as well as your actual training schedule is well worth the time and effort, particularly if you have sustained an injury or know your ‘weak spots’. Factors other than the sport itself that you practice may contribute to an injury. This could be due to posture or occupation, environment or emotional issues.
An injury could be completely unrelated to the sport you practice in fact, so there is value in taking a look at the whole picture.
Shake it up!
Over use of muscles is the most common reason for sports injuries. Give your muscles a break without taking a complete break from exercise by varying your routine!
Countering cardiovascular workouts with different sorts of exercise such as yoga, weight training, pilates can enhance your sport performance. Cardiovascular workouts involve muscle contraction and over time the muscle fibres shorten, making the muscle less effective if it is not treated well. Accumulation of waste and depletion of nutrients in the muscles is natural following training and tissue damage at a microscopic level can develop which may result in injury.
Yoga is a type of exercise that works on lengthening the muscles – this realigns the fibres, tones them and ensures freshly oxygenated and nutrient rich blood reaches them more effectively. At the same time any build up of lactic acid and other toxins are eliminated. The muscles perform better therefore.
Your muscles will repay you if you treat them well!
Including a warm up and warm down as an integral and non-negotiable part of your routine will reduce the chance of injury as well as improve on muscle performance.
Your warm down will not only facilitate the removal of lactic acid from the muscles; stretching will also support the muscle fibres to realign and will reduce the tightness and stiffness (DOMS – delayed onset of soreness) that can follow hard exercise as the muscles naturally contract to their original position.
Rest following a workout is equally helpful to support the recovery process.
There are any number of reasons that could affect your susceptibility to injury. However, regular massage can support you in numerous ways.
Massage can provide an accelerated form of post workout recovery - muscles are smoothed out and stretched, muscle fibres are re-aligned and nourished whilst toxins are cleared out. Muscle tone is improved upon as the muscle is stretched, pulled and manipulated to make it more pliable and flexible, whilst any knots (adhesions) which can develop and turn into injury are removed.
Massage sessions can track the effects of training on the state of your muscles, and can detect potential areas of tissue damage before an injury occurs, as well as treat actual injuries.
Having regular massage can constitute your ‘rest’ as the recovery process is escalated. With regular massage, you can train more regularly in the knowledge that your muscles are being cared for appropriately.
One of the lesser anticipated though equally welcome result of massage is the release of endorphins in our body. Known as the body’s natural pain relievers, these hormones can also serve to contribute to your state of wellbeing through decreased anxiety and mood improvement.
As well as supporting your fitness regime, massage can make you feel great!
So not only is massage your prize for all your hard work! Massage can provide a great contribution to the overall health of your muscles, enabling you to continue to work out in a safer and sustainable way, and thereby hopefully improve your performance.