For 7 years I raced mountain bikes at a National level. First marathon and ultra marathon races 70kms to 230kms, then stage races marathon distance any where from 2 days to 8 days consecutively, then XCO ( Cross Country Olympic). Racing laps of a technical course for about 1hr30, so hard you permanently see stars and think your lungs will burst. These disciplines all required dedicated training of up-to 20 hours a week, on and off the bike. I couldn’t have achieved what I did without a regular weekly massage. At events we had one every day as soon as possible after racing. It is, in my opinion is an integral part of everyone’s life but in particular if you are exercising regularly.
Here are the top 10 reasons why:
Massage strokes when applied lightly such as in MLD (Manual Lymphatic Drainage) will encourage the body to eliminate toxins and lactic acid, which are produced during intense training.
#2 STRESS RELIEF
Modern living can add a lot of stress to an individual’s life. Trying to fit workouts around work and family demands can become quite stressful. However mental health is just as important as our physical health. Massage can help distress the individual by allowing the worries of everyday living to melt away.
#4 POST WORKOUT RECOVERY
During intense exercise the body will endure high amounts of strain on the muscles. For muscle tissue to grow, muscle fibers must first be broken down in order for the body to build bigger stronger muscle tissue. To achieve this, muscle tissue requires extra amounts of nutrients and oxygen, which massage can help deliver.
#4 INCREASE MUSCLE PERFORMANCE
Massage can increase muscle performance in a number of ways. When muscles are hypertonic they cannot perform at their best. As muscles tighten, they shorten creating an ischemic reaction (a lack of blood supply to the area), which will interfere with muscle performance. Deep tissue massage can help dissolve the tightness allowing the muscle fibers to perform at their best. Massage will also improve blood flow, flushing muscle tissue with oxygen and nutrients to enhance performance.
#5 INCREASED FLEXIBILITY
Massage, in particularly a style that incorporates stretching, can help increase the flexibility of a muscle. Joints will also benefit by achieving greater range of motion thus minimising future injuries. Fascia, which is a form of connective tissue that envelops the muscles and acts a second skin, will also become more pliable which will considerably improve flexibility.
#6 INCREASED BLOOD FLOW
Massage strokes increase the blood supply to muscles. The extra blood flow will bring oxygen, water and nutrients so the body can build extra muscle tissue. It will also enhance waste disposal.
# 7 IMPROVING SLEEP
Although most of the hard work is performed at the gym or the park, it is during sleep hours that tissue repair and muscle building will occur, making sleep an important part of the recovery process. Massage can reduce the amount of tension in the muscles and promote a much deeper and restful sleep.
#8 PAIN REDUCTION
Whether pain is experienced through an injury or simply over training, it can be debilitating. Remedial massage can form an important part of the rehabilitation process. Gentle modalities like MFR (Myofascial Release) or MET (Muscle Energy Technique) can be highly beneficial as they can be introduced quite early in the rehabilitation protocol.
#9 DECREASED HYPERTONICITY
As muscles become overly tight or hypertonic there is a greater chance of injury. A skilled massage therapist will be able to identify the areas of hypertonicity and release the taut bands of muscle, will improve performance, sleep patterns and overall health.
#10 TRAIN HARDER AND LONGER
Massage can help minimise the effects of DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). An experienced therapist can help decrease the discomfort experienced with DOMS which will allow the athlete to train more often, for longer periods.
I’d like to add BODY AWARENESS to this list. Having a massage regularly connects you to how your body feels. It puts you more in touch with yourself and how each part of your body is feeling. When your body feels good during and after a massage so do you.
With a balance of exercise, massage, healthy eating and rest you will find that you are a better happier version of you and that can cause a ripple effect not only to other aspects of your life but also to to others. Isn’t that a wonderful thought?