By Athlete's Care on October 02, 2014
If you’ve ever run a marathon, or even watched one on TV, you’ve likely noticed numerous runners receiving massages during or after the race. In fact, you’ve probably wondered what are the benefits of receiving such instantaneous treatment for muscle stiffness, cramps or prolonged physical exertion?
Well, runners and many athletes alike, can reduce pain, and increase flexibility by receiving treatment on the spot. But in order to boost overall recovery time, a deep tissue massage is often recommended ideally a few days after any extreme physical action because it can target key problem areas before they become seriously troublesome.
During a deep tissue massage, the therapist applies acupressure, trigger-point work (focused on all those tiny muscle knots) and “deep transverse friction” where scar tissue is broken by back and forth movement over muscle.
Deep tissue massages aren’t like other massages where you will walk out relaxed, and smelling like a beautiful array of fragrant oils. Due to the nature of this treatment, you will likely leave feeling more pain than usual, however the long-term benefits cannot be disputed.
Here’s why athletes, especially marathoners, should schedule a deep tissue massage:
Reduced pain and recovery time
In a study published by the journal Science Translational Medicine, 11 men were exercised to exhaustion and given 10 minute leg massages immediately afterwards. Following an analysis of the recorded muscle biopsies prior, during and after the workout, scientists discovered that the massage prompted the production of mitochondria, an energy cell that builds muscle, boosts recovery time and suppresses pain.
Improved flexibility and injury prevention
Athletes who receive regular deep tissue massages notice an increase in their range of motion because their therapist is actively breaking down all the tightness around the muscles.
Intense training or exercise can lead to a build up of scar tissue, and the development of many adhesions where the muscle, fascia, and other tissues clump together causing stiffness, and subsequent vulnerability to injury. During a deep tissue massage, your muscle fibers are stretched and scar tissue is broken down which promotes flexibility and agility.
Massages are a healthy part of any detox, and due to the intense nature of the deep tissue massage, blood circulation is increased which enables the muscle to expel toxins and absorb fresh blood and oxygen.
Oxygenation means the muscles are suppler, and athletes are also able to breathe deeper during exercises or sports. On a psychological level, better breathing enables a calmer state of mind, and helps relieve stress or anxiety.
Better sleep patterns
Numerous studies have found that massage therapy induces better sleep and actually helps maintain consistent sleeping patterns. Of course, we all know that sleep is a crucial part of the recovery process for any athlete, but muscle pain and tension can sometimes prevent this and become bothersome in the long term.
A deep tissue massage will reduce tension, induce relaxation, and enable athletes to achieve greater sleep that can make him or her recover faster and perform better.
When should you schedule a deep tissue massage?
Since you will likely walk away from your deep tissue massage feeling a bit battered and bruised (don’t worry, it’s for the best), we recommend scheduling an appointment after a workout or run, preferably with an easy workout or run planned for the next day. This helps out with recovery, and enables you to derive benefits from harder physical activity 24 hours later.
If you have just run a marathon, it’s best to wait at least three to five days before booking an appointment because such an intense activity will cause inflammation, and it’s better to let your body heal a bit beforehand. Once you have dealt with the most acute symptoms of your post-marathon pain, then it’s time to schedule a massage and flush out further damage.
Our team of experienced Toronto massage therapists has treated professional athletes, Olympic athletes, performing artists along with everyday aches and pains including posture related injuries. Our massage therapy team has also been instrumental in the development of specialized injury prevention programs.
Massage therapy treatments can be booked for 30, 45 or 60-minute sessions and we have 16 convenient locations to serve you. Book your massage therapy appointment and see the difference it will make for you.