Whether you're running, hiking, dancing, swimming, or playing basketball, it's no secret that sports are a good way to clear your mind and care for your body. While exercise is an important part of self-care, it's only one component. It's easy to think that our resilient bodies are made of steel, but they require rest and time to recharge so we can perform our best. You might be surprised to learn that massage is actually a great way to protect your body from serious exercise-related injuries. Continue reading to learn about the benefits of sports massage therapy.
If you've ever pushed your body in a workout, you're probably familiar with the sore feeling that follows. While most people assume that lactic acid is the primary culprit, lactic acid typically leaves muscles within a few hours (sometimes lasting up to one day).
The primary causes of soreness in the days after exercise are actually minor injuries and lesions in your muscle tissues. They can cause pain and negatively affect athletic performance (source). In one study published in the Journal of Athletic Training, patients with delayed onset muscle soreness (also called DOMS) post-exercise received 10 minutes of massage therapy three hours after their workout on one arm, while their other arm received no treatment. The researchers concluded that massage was effective in alleviating soreness by approximately 30 percent.
In addition to reducing post-workout soreness and swelling, sports massage therapy can help you manage stress. When you receive a massage, your body releases neurotransmitters called endorphins from your pituitary gland and hypothalamus, which acts as a natural pain reliever. These endorphins can also decrease anxiety, provide pain relief, improve mood, and enhance a person's state of well-being (source).
Sports massage therapy combined with stretching can increase your flexibility. When a massage therapist works on your muscles, connective tissues, tendons, and ligaments, your joints stay more fluid and become less prone to injury. To increase the benefits of sports massage therapy, you should combine it with regular stretching.
Stretching and massage produce similar benefits. Both practices get the blood flowing to overactive muscles that have contracted due to stress or strain. If you don't regularly stretch and massage your muscles, they can spasm and shut down, resulting in round knots. You'll especially notice these painful knots when your massage therapist is working on them. These muscle knots need to be worked out in order for you to perform your best on the field. This is because they inhibit range of motion by keeping muscles short and stiff. They also weaken muscles, causing them to tire quickly and recover slowly.
Chiropractic care and sports massage therapy are another powerful duo. Most chiropractic offices also offer massage therapy, and your chiropractor might even include sports massage therapy in your treatment plan along with sports chiropractic treatment. Chiropractic care works by reducing misalignments that interfere with your body’s function and movement, helping your body feel and function at its best. Some people find that it improves their performance in competitions as well as daily workouts.
Massage provides an easy, relaxing way to give your body the rest it needs to achieve your athletic goals. It can also relieve your muscle soreness, swelling, and stress. If you are interested in taking advantage of the benefits of sports massage therapy, reach out to Loehr Chiropractic & Acupuncture. We’re fully committed to delivering top-notch patient care. That’s why we provide a variety of natural health options for athletes, including sports massage, chiropractic care, acupuncture, and nutritional services. Contact us today to explore the possibilities and request an appointment.