The benefits of sports massage ~ maintaining your Maserati

Massage can reduce athletic injuries

Getting injured is every athlete’s worst fear. Injuries impair performance, delay training and conditioning schedules during recovery, are costly to treat, and, most of all, injuries hurt.

Dealing with pain and limited mobility after an injury is exhausting, frustrating, and worth the measures necessary to avoid an injury from happening.

Plus, over time, injuries take their toll on the body.  Most of the time, damaged tissue heals, but when muscles are continually taxed to their max through high-performance athletics, the odds increase that an injury, especially a recurring one, will result in a permanent condition.

Massage therapy has come a long way.  From spa treatment to relaxation therapy; to specialized therapies, such as sports massage and prenatal massage; and, currently, according to recent research, massage therapy is making headway in preventative medicine, such as preventing injuries in athletes.

As recently as May, 2016, Oxford University research suggests that massage therapy may be beneficial for improving individuals experiencing pain.  The findings state massage therapy should be offered to a patient for pain management. The study concluded that massage therapy is beneficial across various function outcomes including anxiety and HrQoL.

Health-related quality of life (HRQoL) is a multi-dimensional concept that includes domains related to physical, mental, emotional, and social functioning.

Researchers at McMaster University reported that massage following an intense workout actually causes muscles to enlarge and grow new mitochondria.  Mitochondria are the powerhouses of our cells and are responsible for converting nutrients into useful energy.

For an athlete, energy is everything.

The study found that deep-tissue massage increased the size and number of new mitochondria more than exercising without massage. Increasing mitochondria can improve endurance performance by increasing the rate that muscles utilize oxygen.

To the body, oxygen is everything.

The McMaster University study also found that massage therapy increases the range of motion in muscles and decreases recovery time between workouts or athletic events.

Massage for sports injuries not only concentrates on existing injuries, but can also help prevent injuries. Massage before conditioning training helps to prevent injuries and should be administered after a warm-up session. Massage can also help to prevent common injuries when administered after a training session, as it helps to return the muscles to their relaxed state.

The better we feel, the better we heal.  For muscles, too.

Massage is beneficial to more than muscles 

Muscles might be the richest benefactors of a massage, but, most people report a feeling of pure relaxation, reduced anxiety, enhanced attentiveness, and improved mood following a massage.

Athletes may find an edge in these psychological benefits, making massage a double-duty treatment; a mind and body therapy.  That’s a lot of bounce for your ounce!

Various bodies of research compiled by the National Center for Biotechnology Information indicate that massage therapy:

  • Reduces heart rate.
  • Lowers blood pressure.
  • Reduces recovery time after an injury.
  • Rehabs an injury.
  • Lowers anxiety.
  • Improves mood.
  • Increases blood flow throughout the body, bringing vital oxygen and nutrients all over.
  • Relieves muscle pain and tension.
  • Improves connective tissue healing, which promotes muscle elasticity.
  • Stabilizes cortisol levels (a stress hormone, similar to adrenaline).
  • Improves muscle flexibility, which reduces and prevents injury.

And, as if all these benefits weren’t enough, research published in the International Journal of Neuroscience suggests that massage therapy improves the quality of sleep.

Do you want to drive a Maserati or a Ford Focus?

The Ford Focus is a fine vehicle, designed for economy and low maintenance.  It’s a clean, solid ride.

Then, there’s the Maserati. A masterfully engineered Italian machine, designed for high-performance, power and superior luxury.  While it’s a bit pricey for most of us, its sticker price is not the only factor to consider when it comes to owning a Maserati.

A Maserati is an exceptionally high-maintenance vehicle, known to be expensive to maintain and repair; much more so than other cars in its class.  Ask a Maserati owner why they spend so much time and money maintaining a car whose value and performance could be found elsewhere and their response will echo that of designer and car collector, Ralph Lauren, “You can enjoy both the beauty of the machine and the journey it takes you on.”

High-performance output requires high performance input, in both cars and bodies.  Athletes are the high-performance models of the human body.  In order to keep up with the substantial demands required of being optimally fit, athletes must stick to an impeccable diet regimen, maintain quality and consistent rest habits, and adhere to regular exercise, training and conditioning programs.

Athletes also need superior health and wellness strategies to sustain optimal performance by their bodies. By having regular massage, athletes can keep their muscles healthy, improve their flexibility, maintain relaxation, and have a better sleep cycle.

Research compiled by NCBI, states, “Athletes and coaches are constantly fine tuning their training strategies in order to develop a competitive edge. The use of therapeutic modalities, such as thermal agents, electrical stimulation, and massage are often performed for this purpose. “

For most athletes, professional or the weekend warrior brand, enjoying less muscle stiffness, preventing injury, improving relaxation and well-being are reasons enough to enjoy a regular massage program. For some, it’s also about giving the Maserati its due.

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