Keeping your body in tip top shape is a task and a half. We all love getting out there for a run or a bit of exercise, but what I often see and hear is that people neglect the maintenance and upkeep of their muscles. Whether this be not cooling down ‘properly’ after an event, not drinking enough water, or not using a foam roller, it is something that seems to come up in conversation with my clients more often than not. One useful way to keep your muscles in a good condition, is to use massage. It is used throughout the world of elite sport for a reason, whether it be Usain Bolt or Lewis Hamilton, massage will be used to ensure they are in the best possible shape. But what are the benefits of massage, and why should you be using massage as part of your training regime? This ‘non-sciencey’ list shows a number of the benefits sports massage provides:
- Massage ‘recharges’ your muscles. It encourages the transport of nutrients and fluids which will help keep them feeling good.
- It also helps remove nasty waste products that can build up when you run, for example, lactic acid, which as we know is far from ideal. Less lactic acid means our muscles feel better, which we all want right?!
- We hate having tight muscles, and massage is the best way to reduce the tightness we experience. It loosens up the fibres and structures around the muscles and helps improve their mobility and general condition.
- Some of you may have heard of scar tissue – it is what builds up when we injure a muscle, which leads to the muscle becoming less functional. Massage can break down this scar tissue, and therefore improves the condition of the muscle.
- All of the above contribute to improving the condition of our muscles, which reduces the likelihood of injury. Easing tension in our muscles can reduce stress going through our joints, which can reduce pain which is another positive! Of course this means we can get our runners back on and beat those personal bests!
- Massage reduces stress and aids relaxation too. It stops that heavy feeling in your muscles and keeps them feeling fresh, this in turn makes you feel good in yourself which will only have positive effects on your running.
- Using massage to keep your muscles fresh and free from tightness will help you get a better nights sleep. Studies have shown that improved quality of sleep is linked improved sporting performance, especially important in the lead to an event!
Sports massage is a crucial part of the lives of elite athletes, and by making it part of your training programme, whether it be once a month or once a week, you will notice the benefits it has both on your wellbeing and sporting performance.