Every successful athlete knows that remedial massage is an essential part of sports recovery and injury prevention. In this article, we examine the issue of “soreness” in athletes and explain why remedial massage is so beneficial for optimal sports performance and preventing injury.
Why do athletes feel ‘sore’ after working out?
If muscles have been worked hard or have been overstretched they may suffer tiny micro tears. This is nothing to be alarmed at, the muscle fibres have simply worked to their capacity and tiny tears have appeared which then causes an inflammatory response. This inflammation can be mildly to moderately painful, depending on how hard you’ve worked your body. The subject of exactly why muscles are sore after working out is still being extensively studied, but there are some universally accepted reasons such as tightness, adhesions, lack of oxygen or nutrients, build-up of waste products, or pain receptor stimulation and nerve irritation. Once the pain is present, this can hinder the athlete’s muscle function, manifesting in restricted movement or limited power. This makes an athlete’s training much less effective.
Why do athletes need to recover?
When the body is under a large amount of stress, an excess of “fight or flight” hormones such as adrenaline or cortisone are released. With athletes, the body is permanently geared towards being active and never has a chance to relax and recover. This excess of hormones has a negative effect on the immune system, leaving the body more vulnerable to infection and generally making it more difficult for the body to recover. Therefore, it is essential that the body can learn to fully switch off at rest time in order to recuperate. When properly rested, the body can perform optimally when competing or training.
“When administered to skeletal muscle that has been acutely damaged through exercise, massage therapy appears to be clinically beneficial by reducing inflammation and promoting mitochondrial biogenesis.”
– American Association for the Advancement of Science
What are the benefits of remedial massage for athletes?
In an athlete’s normal cycle they need to be able to train, compete and recover. Prolonged periods of rest for full recovery are ideal, but may not be an option during a competitive season. One of the main objectives of remedial massage is to enhance recovery and decrease recovery time, thereby improving athletic performance. Here are some of the key benefits:
- Relieves muscle spasms and reduces nerve irritation
- Breaks down scar tissue and adhesions
- Improves circulation, which in turn increases oxygen and nutrition delivery to muscles and helps repair damaged tissues
- Stimulates the circulatory and lymphatic system, enabling faster removal of waste products and toxins
- Relieves stress and provides relaxation to the entire body, which is essential for good recovery
By using remedial massage techniques, a massage therapist can firstly relax and warm the muscles, then work on lengthening them and removing any knots. Remedial massage can also help with joint mobilisation, stretching and strengthening certain muscle groups to remove any imbalances, improving flexibility greatly. Regular remedial massage may also help to prevent injuries developing; by keeping the muscle groups balanced and certain muscles lengthened, it can prevent some of the more common sporting injuries like tendinitis, shin splints, plantar fasciitis, rotator cuff injuries and many more.
When is the best time to have a remedial massage?
After a remedial massage, particularly if the focus has been on breaking down adhesions and joint mobilisation, the body may be sore for up to 48 hours. A remedial massage should be booked at least two days before a serious training session or competition. Pre-event massage, however, can be performed right up to just before a race begins. This is because this type of massage is less invasive, simply involving brisk, flowing strokes that increase circulation and mobilise the muscles.
If you’re interested in learning more about remedial massage, Sage offers a Diploma Of Remedial Massage (HLT50307) at its campuses in Melbourne CBD and Elsternwick on a full- and part-time basis. Call our expert career advisers now on 1300 889 889 now to find out which course is most suitable for you.
Sage Institute of Massage – it’s more than a job, it’s a rewarding career.
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