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With spring (finally) in full force and summer just a month away, Canadians are heading outside for some fresh air and outdoor activity. Whether your activity of choice is gardening, golfing, running or biking, there’s a good chance you’ll fail to prepare your body properly for the additional exertion and need some form of rehabilitation. Before you reach for the pill bottle for a quick and temporary fix, consider how massage therapy can help you to stay active and healthy, while improving your athletic performance.
Used regularly by professional athletes, massage is one of the most effective forms of injury rehabilitation therapy for speeding up the healing process and preventing re-injury. Regular massage therapy treatments not only reduce the risk of soft-tissue injury, they reduce the recovery time, helping you maintain flexibility and optimal range of motion.
For the weekend athlete, regular massage therapy treatments help to boost the body’s own healing process, allowing it to break down adhesions and scar tissue. Massage also helps reintroduce blood flow for improved circulation, which brings cell nutrition and oxygen to those muscle cells to revitalize and renew. If you don’t allow your body to fully heal and recover before participating in your next exercise session or sports event, the odds of suffering an injury are higher.
Massage therapy helps to relax and relieve tension in the body with a combination of hand strokes and gentle oils, explains athlete and author Brad Walker at stretchcoach.com. Some massage treatments may not have immediate health effects. These deep tissue massages release fluids and tension within deep muscles. The effects are normally delayed, but the next day the general overall feeling is vastly improved.
Other benefits include:
Improved circulation and general nutrition of muscles.
This appears to be the most valuable fitness-related benefit. Massage is accompanied or followed by an increasing interchange of substances between the blood and the tissue cells, which increases tissue metabolism. Massage maximizes the supply of nutrients and oxygen through increased blood flow, which helps the body rebuild itself.
Improved range of motion and muscle flexibility.
This results in increased power and performance, which helps you work efficiently and with proper intensity to facilitate the body’s muscle-building response.
Shortens recovery time between workouts.
Waste products such as lactic and carbonic acid build-up in muscles after exercise. Increased circulation to these muscles helps to eliminate toxic debris and shorten recovery time.
Prevention/healing of injuries.
By stretching connective tissue, massage improves circulation to help prevent or break down adhesions. Massage also influences the excretion of certain fluids (nitrogen, phosphorous, sulfur) necessary for tissue repair.
Types of Massage
Each type of massage is employed to address a specific need.
Trigger Point Therapy: A trigger point is a tight area within muscle tissue that causes pain in other parts of the body. Trigger point massage therapy is specifically designed to alleviate the source of the pain through cycles of isolated pressure and release. In this type of massage for trigger point therapy, the recipient actively participates through deep breathing as well as identifying the exact location and intensity of the discomfort.
Swedish Massage: Swedish massage therapy is the modality that comes to mind when most people think about massage. As the best-known type of bodywork performed today, one of the primary goals of the Swedish massage technique is to relax the entire body. This is accomplished by rubbing the muscles with long gliding strokes in the direction of blood returning to the heart. But Swedish massage therapy goes beyond relaxation. Swedish massage is exceptionally beneficial for increasing the level of oxygen in the blood, decreasing muscle toxins, improving circulation and flexibility while easing tension.
Deep Tissue Massage: Deep tissue massage therapy is similar to Swedish massage, but the deeper pressure is beneficial in releasing chronic muscle tension. The focus is on the deepest layers of muscle tissue, tendons and fascia (the protective layer surrounding muscles, bones and joints).
Sports Massage: Sports massage therapy is geared toward athletes. The particulars of the sports massage technique are specific to the athlete’s sport of choice. Focusing on areas of the body that are overused and stressed from repetitive and often aggressive movements.
At Pickering Village Chiropractic & Massage, our registered massage therapists employ a variety of hands-on techniques to assess and treat the soft tissues and joints of the body. If you’re looking for massage therapy in Ajax or Pickering, call our clinic at 905-427-3202 to make an appointment with Ajax massage therapists Jessica Raedisch or Rolf Castanheiro.Leave a Comment
Those effects can last for more than 72 hours, researchers found. People with poor circulation or limited ability to move are among those who could benefit most from massage therapy, they noted.
“Our study validates the value of massage in exercise and injury, which has been previously recognized but based on minimal data,” Nina Cherie Franklin, study first author and a postdoctoral fellow in physical therapy at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said in a university news release. “It also suggests the value of massage outside of the context of exercise.”
In the study, the researchers asked 36 healthy but inactive young adults to use a leg press machine until their legs became sore. Half of the participants were given a Swedish leg massage after they exercised. All of the participants rated their muscle soreness on a scale from one to 10. A third comparison group did not exercise, but got a massage.
Although both exercise groups were sore right after their workout, the people who got the massage said they had no soreness 90 minutes later. In contrast, those in the group that didn’t receive a massage said they were sore 24 hours after they exercised.
Because muscle injury from exercise has been shown to reduce blood flow, researchers say, they also measured the participants’ “brachial artery flow mediated dilation” in their arms. This standard measure of general vascular health was taken 90 minutes as well as one, two and three days after exercise.
The people who got a massage after they exercised had improved blood flow at every testing interval and the benefits of the massage didn’t dissipate until after 72 hours had passed, researchers found. People who did not receive a massage after exercise had reduced blood flow after 90 minutes and returned to normal levels at 72 hours.
“We believe that massage is really changing physiology in a positive way,” Franklin said. “This is not just blood flow speeds — this is actually a vascular response.”
And massage doesn’t just help people who exercise, the researchers also found.
“The big surprise was the massage-only control group, who showed virtually identical levels of improvement in circulation as the exercise and massage group,” study principal investigator Shane Phillips, an associate professor of physical therapy at UIC, said in the news release. “The circulatory response was sustained for a number of days, which suggests that massage may be protective.”
The study found that participants’ blood flow was changed far away from the sore muscles. Researchers concluded that massage benefits are systemic and not confined to one specific area of the body.
While the study found an association between massage and improved circulation, it did not establish a cause-and-effect relationship.
The study was recently published online ahead of publication in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
— Mary Elizabeth Dallas