Sports massage may seem like a recovery method that is reserved exclusively for high end athletes and advanced trainers, but this definitely is not the case. Sports massage can help you gain, and maintain, mobility and flexibility. Sports massage is also a great treat to help you relax, as well as prolonging tissue health and integrity.
We’ve all experienced DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) in our time, whether from starting a new training regime, overtraining or just leg day. It’s something that we all go through, and even with a proper warm up and cooldown routine, it’s still something we experience. Enter sports massage.
A wide variety of scientific studies show that DOMS can be greatly reduced by sports massage. There are also some studies that show this is not the case, so which way should we lean when assessing how it works? Well, sports massage reduces inflammation through creating more blood flow through stimulated tissue. This helps with circulation and allowing the muscles to remove unwanted waste products and receive nutrients in a more direct way. Also using PNF (Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation) during a sports massage we can add not only pressure but stretching of those muscle fibres too, delaying and removing DOMS. From my personal experience of sports massage, it works…really well.
Not only does sports massage aid recovery, alleviate muscle spasm and soreness whilst increasing blood flow but it also helps with mobility and flexibility. As the muscle fibres are manipulated and the fascia released, blood flow to the muscles increases, aiding in the transference of lactates out of the muscles, and also improved oxygenated blood flow into the muscles to remove waste products. In other words: muscle pain = lessened.
If you’re training towards any kind of flexibility goal, like front or mid splits for example, sports massage is a great way of showing your muscles that they can indeed stretch that way and that far, by implementing sports massage, mobility and flexibility can increase gradually over time. Slow and steady wins the race as they say, and the same applies here.
As side benefits sports massage helps lymphatic system stimulation, aids with better sleep, helps with stress and can reduce blood pressure. So, if you know you suffer from any lymphatic issues, disturbed sleep or stress. I would highly recommend trying sports massage and seeing if it’s for you. Sports massage can also provide psychological benefits, as endorphins are released during sports massage, in turning reducing levels of stress hormones. Sports massage can also help with tension headaches and posture issues, especially if you have been sat at a desk all day.
Sports massage is also a nice treat so that you can focus on yourself, and having a good sports massage therapist as a contact is always really useful. Just enjoying being still and relaxing has value in itself and with the extra benefits, what’s not to get on board with?
You can also invest in a Theragun or similar product for an at home approach, which is less costly in the long run, but a higher cost up front. Most massage guns can be set to whichever level of tissue stimulation you prefer. Make sure you find some good tutorials on how to use a massage gun before going in, all guns blazing! This way you can make sure you are not causing yourself any further damage or injury.
So if you’re not implementing sports massage in your routine, I would thoroughly recommend trying it to see if it’s for you. It can really help reduce injury risk, reduce time between workouts, rehabilitate muscles and help with flexibility, as well as a plethora of hormonal and other recovery-based benefits including better sleep and less stress. What’s not to love?