How Athletes Can Benefit From Massage
Professional athletes have long sworn by massage therapy, often keeping therapists on the payroll at all times. Most individuals agree that a professional massage is a very pleasant, relaxing and highly therapeutic experience, but there has been little evidence that it can actually benefit athletes. That is, until now.
Athletes and Massage
Recently, the American Massage Therapy Association stated that athletes can benefit greatly from massage, which can work to improve their performance, reduce physical pain, prevent injury, encourage focus and even shorten recovery time. Specifically, massage can have the following beneficial effects:
- Physiological. Massage can dilate blood vessels and promote healthy blood circulation, which improves the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to organs and tissues in the body. This can help to relieve muscle tension, reduce soreness and improve recovery time which in turn can improve athletic performance. Massage can also reduce inflammation and promote the growth of mitochondria.
- Psychological. In addition to physical strength, an athlete must also possess a strong ability to focus mentally on the task at hand. Massage can reduce stress and anxiety while simultaneously promoting relaxation, which can allow the individual to clear their mind and focus.
Athletes often benefit most from deep tissue and sports massages. With a deep tissue massage, the therapist applies heavy pressure in order to work out knots and tension in muscles and other deep tissues. This massage is often designed to address specific areas that the individual needs help with. With a sports massage, the therapist delivers a fast-paced massage in order to warm-up the muscles before working out or to reduce soreness and increase flexibility after working out.
An athlete who participates in the occasional deep tissue or sports massage may experience some pleasant benefits, but an athlete who participates in regular deep tissue or sports massages normally experiences far more pleasant benefits. The benefits of regular massage are cumulative as they continue to address the muscles and tissues that are being used in workouts and sports events. However, it is important to recognize that these types of massages are not as comfortable as other spa massages, and may result in the same degree of soreness that occurs after a hard workout. Spa massages can also be beneficial in reducing tension and increasing blood flow, even if not to the same degree as deep tissue or sports massages. So if you participate in athletic activities, consider relaxing afterwards with a wonderfully beneficial massage.