Massage therapy is not only for relaxation and injury recovery, it also provides you with many strength training benefits that will help enhance your performance and results. If you only consider getting a massage when you are overworked or injured, you may be limiting the benefits of this gentle, non-invasive, hands-on therapy. Massage therapy is very personalized. You work with your massage therapist to focus on muscles that are tight, sore or have inflammation. This direct approach carries over into your strength training.
4 Benefits of Massage Therapy
Greater Range of Motion
A massage therapist works on your muscles to help reduce tension. This directly applied pressure improves your flexibility. When tight muscles are relaxed, you are able to move the muscles and the joints through a greater range of motion. As a result, your muscle fibers are strengthened throughout the entire fiber's range of motion. In contrast, when your muscles are overly tight, training results are limited by the lack of flexibility. This is one of the many strength training benefits massage therapy will give you. You will see and feel a difference in the size and strength or your muscles.
Reduced Muscular Discomfort
Not only does a massage increase your body's release of endorphins, which are a natural painkiller, massage works in other ways to reduce your muscle soreness. When you receive a massage, the muscle temperature increases. This increase in heat also increases blood flow to the area. Fresh blood brings in healing cells that help repair muscle fibers faster which reduces discomfort and helps you return to your workouts sooner. The blood going away from the muscles helps to remove toxins such as lactic acid that build up when you strength train. The faster the lactic acid is removed from the area, the sooner your muscle soreness goes away. If your muscles repair faster and you experience less muscle soreness, you are able to workout more frequently and see results faster.
Increased Muscular Tone
Receiving weekly or monthly massages keeps you in touch with your body. As the therapist massages your muscles, you become more in tune with each area and are able to focus on a specific muscle. This carries over into your workout sessions. For instance, instead of concentrating on pushing up the barbell during a bench press, you find your focus has now shifted to the contraction you are feeling in your pecs or the way your triceps contract to support the movement. These small changes have a large affect on your workout and your results. When you are able to contract specific muscles during strength training, your muscle tone improves faster. You are not wasting any movements and are using both your time and your energy efficiently.
Choosing a Massage Therapist
Ask for referrals from friends and family so you have feedback on a massage therapist. Find a certified massage therapist that you trust and with whom you feel comfortable. Massage is a very personal experience and you need to be relaxed. Speak with the therapist about your fitness goals so he or she can personalize your massage therapy program. If you are seeing a massage therapist for the first time, be aware that you can dress or undress to what feels comfortable for you. You will be covered by a sheet with the only uncovered body part being the area that is massaged.