Q: As an athlete, would I benefit from regular massages?
A: What goes through one’s mind when he hears the word "massage?" Years ago, it might have conjured up images of incense or candles burning, soft music and the light touch of a masseuse. Her job was simply to promote relaxation and inner peace. Today, there are many different types of massage therapy becoming recognized by athletes hoping to stay in peak condition or recover from injuries.
For example, "Deep Tissue Massage" can be the perfect complement to any athlete’s exercise routine. These sessions given at regular intervals (once or twice each month) will keep the muscles supple and relaxed, thus decreasing the likelihood of future injuries and lessening down time during recovery. Whether it’s a tight muscle that needs to be loosened or a nagging injury that won’t go away, massage can assist in healing by facilitating the body’s natural healing responses.
The cumulative toll of repetitive movements caused by running, biking, weightlifting or other fitness routines can result in tight, sore or sluggish muscles. Deep, long, gliding massage strokes called "effleurage" help flush out lactic acid and metabolic wastes that are byproducts of muscle contractions. The wastes then move into the circulatory and lymphatic systems where they are processed and eliminated. Freshly oxygenated and nutrient rich blood is free to move in.
As we age, our bodies’ connective tissues lose their elasticity and/or become stuck together. This results in a shortening of the tendons and ligaments. The risk of injury is thereby increased. Massage warms up the tissues and makes them more pliable and receptive to stretching. Deep friction strokes can help break up adhesions formed by the body to replace damaged muscle tissues. And mobilizations, involving the massage therapist taking the relaxed limb through its full range of motion, results in greater fluidity. Movement is reintroduced to the limbs and the repetitive pattern serves to excite nerve endings that have been ignored.
A reputable Certified Massage Therapist will ask questions about an athlete’s exercise routine. Together they can form a customized plan to suit the client’s needs and schedule.
Dennis Gravitt C.M.T. - Sports Massage Specialist