Stress does not just go away...it accumulates. Make massage therapy a regular part of your personal health plan
Having run pretty much all my life, I can personally advocate regular massage treatments for injury prevention and happier healthier muscles that will perform optimally. The moment I neglect this vital step of training, my legs become heavy, my muscles ache and feel tight and I invariably end up with some sort of injury, potentially preventing me from training properly or completely taking me off the road for months.
I will explain the physical, physiological and psychological effects of massage briefly.
–Pumping:The stroking movement of massage cause fluid to move in and out of the lymph and blood vessels. By increasing the pressure in the front of the effleurage, a vacuum is created behind. This is critical in tight or damaged muscle tissue to increase blood and lymph flow and nutrient and oxygen uptake.
–Increased tissue permeability: Deep tissue massage causes pore opening of the tissue membranes and this enables fluid, and therefore nutrients to pass through. This helps remove waste products and encourages nutrient and oxygen uptake.
-Stretching: Massage stretches tissue that cannot be stretched in the usual methods. Bundles of muscle fibres are stretched length-wise as well as cross frictioned sideways. Massage also loosens up the sheath known as fascia, that surrounds the muscle, releasing any tension and pressure build up.
–Break down scar tissue: Massage helps to break down old scar tissue from previous injury or trauma. Scar tissue build up can affect muscle, ligaments and tendons. It can cause them to be rigid and inflexible resulting in discomfort and further injury.
-Improve tissue elasticity: Hard training can make tissue rigid and inelastic. This can be a reason why hard training with no recovery can cause no improvement in performance and actually hinders it. Massage helps reverse this by stretching the tissue and keeping it supple and flexible.
-Opens micro circulation: Massage increases blood flow to body parts, this opens the blood vessels, and by stretching them, nutrients and oxygen pass through freely and encourage healing.
-Pain Reduction: Tension, overuse and a build-up of waste products in the muscles result in pain. Massage will help reduce this by producing endorphin’s.
-Relaxation: A pretty obvious one! Massage causes relaxation in most cases, unless muscles are extremely sore.. But even then, I find it a “nice” sore. Muscles will relax through heat generated and increased circulation and stretching.
–Anxiety reduction: Through the effects mentioned above, relaxation is induced and so reduces anxiety levels thereby improving emotional well being.
-Invigorating: If Your body will feel invigorated after massage due to increased circulation.
-Injury prevention: Regular massage will prevent injury which ensures that a positive mental attitude is maintained. Injury can lead to a sense of despair, and even cause depression, as we are being prevented from doing what we love.
I have found all the above true for me. I train A LOT!! At least 6 days a week and often twice a day. When I don’t go for my weekly, yes… weekly… massage- my Achilles start to niggle, my lower back gets sore and my range of motion is impaired. Most athletes think nothing of buying coffee and breakfast often after their morning runs, but balk at having a massage as it’s too “expensive”. Getting injured is way more expensive, with all the rehab bills and never mind the expense of your mental health. Coupled with yoga, this new approach in 2017 has left me injury free.. Rather rare for me. I shall talk about yoga in a new post soon, as this has also contributed to injury prevention for me and balances the stress running causes.