Do you often work out or exercise and find yourself aching? Have you pulled muscles whilst lifting heavy weights? Among other scenarios, these are some of the reasons that individuals may need a sports massage. In this article, we’ll be answering the question ‘What are the benefits of a sports massage?’.
What is Sports Massage?
A sports massage is the process of manipulating the muscles, connective tissue and the tendons fascia. It is a form of a deep tissue massage used to relieve the tension and restrictions that can build up as a result of undertaking repetitive and strenuous physical activities. Our physiotherapy clinic in Cambridge has a team of highly skilled professionals, experienced in relieving muscle pain.
Sports massages are a highly sort after form of sports recovery. The process of the massage enables both the muscle tissue and the connective tissue to relax, reducing pain and muscular tension.
- Stronger Flow of Blood/Nutrients
Massaging the muscle tissue will stimulate the flow of blood, this massaging movement allows the blood vessels to open and dilate; letting the nutrients to be passed into the bloodstream significantly easier. These intense stroking movements help the flow through both the blood and lymph vessels. As muscles get tight and stiff, they act similarly to a sponge and squeeze blood out, further depriving the tissues of nutrients which can help to repair damaged tissues. The motion of stroking the muscles is an important part of the massage, allowing the damaged area to receive the appropriate nutrients and a healthy supply of oxygen.
- Reduces Pain
When in pain our body will naturally release endorphins to help minimise any feelings of discomfort. Endorphins are a natural form of pain relief and can also be brought out through massage. By manipulating the muscles, any congestion of metabolic irritants will be reduced as the muscles relax. As well as this, muscle tension will be released, reducing any pain.
- Promotes Relaxation
Having a good range of movement will help with the relaxation of muscles. Through sports massage, you can increase your range of motion, which in turn will give the muscles the opportunity to relax; providing them with more mobility. A poor range will result in having tight or tense muscles which can result in injury to muscle tissue. To improve this, a sports massage will help to warm up the muscles. Improving not only physical relaxation but mental relaxation too, due to the pain being restricted and drifting away.
- Reduce Anxiety/Stress
Sports massages aren’t just for physical pain; they also help psychologically. In the brain, endorphins are released by the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus. Alongside this, neurotransmitters are released which help to reduce anxiety and feelings of stress while also acting as a natural pain reliever and improving your mood.
- Boosts Performance
A reduction in pain and looser muscles will allow you to have a stronger performance in your specific/chosen field or activity. It’s important to warm up your muscles before exercising as it relaxes them enabling them to become more mobile, allowing a stronger performance and reducing the risk of injury. Relaxing the muscles will offer you the opportunity to strengthen them further optimising your athletic performance.
- Better Flexibility/Mobility
When exercising or enduring in strenuous activity muscles will tense up and get stiff. Due to this, it is very beneficial to ensure that you stretch the muscles you worked after your activity, giving them the opportunity to relax and ease up.
A massage works similarly to stretching as it will get in deep to the muscle, relaxing and softening it to improve mobility and flexibility.
- Ease Sticky Bones
Sports massages can help to separate the muscle fibres that may have stuck to each other or to soft tissue that surrounds them. Occasionally, they can also stick to bones which reduces mobility and increases the amount of stiffness in the muscles. An excellent way to ease the stiffness of muscles and stop the muscle fibres sticking is to indulge in a sports massage to mobilise your muscle and soft tissues.
- Reduces Metabolic Waste
As mentioned earlier, massaging muscles will increase the blood flow. As the blood flow is improved, continuing to massage the damaged area will help remove any metabolic waste products from the tissue. These products could be something such as lactates; removing them, it will help aid the recovery.
- Fewer Impairments to Muscular Function
By removing the tension in the muscles, it helps to prevent further injuries. Tight muscles are unable to stretch which makes it harder to move freely. With stretched muscles, there is an increase in the blood flow which will enable a better flow of oxygen and nutrients that are essential for a healthy repair of damaged tissues and fibres.
Indulging in a sports massage will allow you to see if there are any areas of muscle or soft tissue that need attention. Knowing this, the physiotherapist can then help to strengthen the weak area to avoid it from breaking down further.
- Reduces Muscle Tension
Our bodies will always be there for us, so it’s important that we respect them. If you are a physically active person, you may find that you could benefit from a sports massage. From massaging there will be a reduction in the amount of pain you feel in your muscles, allowing them to loosen and have an increased amount of flexibility.
- Rehabilitation of an Injury
A massage will help to facilitate an injury. The process and nature of a massage will allow more oxygen to flow to the muscle tissue increasing the mobility. This flow of oxygen will allow the muscle to be nourished with the appropriate nutrients and be free from any knotted tension. Sports massages will help rebuild the strength in weaker muscles and tissues by warming up the muscles. Warming them up will increase mobility and assist in improving muscle flexibility.
- Improves Your Mood
Massages release endorphins; they are a chemical in the brain that allows you to feel happy. They’re released with other chemicals such as dopamine, oxytocin and serotonin. During a massage, the flow of blood is increased enabling it to have a smoother flow. As a result, these chemicals are released into the system allowing you to feel more relaxed and happier.