In days gone by, the motto for athletes was “no pain, no gain,” but we know better now. By taking steps to help the body properly recover, the risk of long-term damage is reduced, and athletic performance can be enhanced. Many complementary treatments, including massage therapy, can be an integral part of your athletic recovery program.
Read on to learn more about the benefits of massage therapy for athletes and exercise enthusiasts at all levels of enthusiasm and ability.
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, or DOMS, is a condition that is familiar to anyone who has ever “overdone it” with physical activity. Unlike acute muscle soreness, which comes during or immediately after exercise, DOMS comes on hours or even days after the physical activity. It’s that pain in the shoulder you notice reaching for a glass on the shelf two days after a workout, or the stiff feeling in the hamstring when you bend down to pick up something on the floor after a day of heavy gardening.
DOMS can be a minor nuisance, or it can be a major issue that impedes mobility for several days. While the recommendation of massage therapy to increase the range of motion after strenuous exercise is an outdated one, treatment with an RMT does help to reduce the pain and inflammation associated with DOMS, which can reduce the time needed to recover and thus allow more time for training.
Improve Circulation with Massage Therapy
Not so long ago, it was believed that DOMS and most of the feelings of stiffness and discomfort post-athletic training were caused by a build up of lactic acid. Furthermore, it was believed that after massage therapy and the consumption of a lot of water, this lactic acid was “broken up” and “flushed out.” We now understand that explanation is not entirely accurate. First of all, lactic acid is generated during exercise, but it is also gone from the muscle within about 15-30 minutes after strenuous activity. The notion of a build-up of lactic acid causing pain is a myth. Secondly, water is great if you’re thirsty, but it can’t flush anything out of your bloodstream.
However, massage therapy may improve local circulation, which can change neurovascular activity, which may help to decrease muscle soreness. By working on joints, ligaments, tendons and connective tissues, regular massage therapy can help increase flexibility and improve range of motion. These benefits of massage therapy, when taken together, can enhance athletic performance and decrease the chance of injury.
Benefits of Massage for Runners
Running is a sport that appeals because it can be done virtually anywhere and the start-up costs are relatively small. But, as is the case with any exercise, trying to do too much, too soon can have very painful and long-lasting after effects. By incorporating massage therapy in the post-exercise recovery plan, runners can improve function and therefore head off physical problems that are common in their sport, including pain and/or overuse injuries to the Achilles tendons, hamstrings and knees.
How does this work? Well, let’s take a common complaint of runners – pain in the hamstrings. It’s easy enough to identify where it hurts, but the cause of that pain may have less to do with the hamstrings specifically. It could be the result of a reduced range of motion in the hips, knees, or ankles thus causing the hamstrings to lose their capacity to load and function optimally in a running stride. Working with a skilled massage therapist can help runners identify and treat the cause of the problem, not the symptoms.
If you’re ready to take your training in any sport to the next level, there is no time like the present to find a registered massage therapist to help you succeed. To work with an RMT Victoria residents rely upon for effective, evidence-based massage care, contact Achieve Health today. You may also schedule an appointment online, even on the weekend.