Triathonline | Can Sports Massage Improve Your Fitness Level?

Can Sports Massage Improve Your Fitness Level?

Posted by Neil on May 18, 2012 


As I underwent several months of physical therapy for running injuries at the back end of last year, one of the techniques I benefitted the most from was sports massage. Of course, other treatments were prescribed too, from ultrasound to interferential current treatment to cluster acupuncture; but my problems were not necessarily associated with recent injury – something which would require enhanced blood-flow to improve healing. For me, it was the amount of scar tissue from lots of past minor injuries that caused the problems. The best road to recovery was to get ‘hands on’ and work the adhesions away, and smooth out those muscle fibers. A good rub-down might just be what we should all aim for to keep ourselves on the road!

And you don’t need to be a top athlete to know the aches and pains that come with a workout. In fact, it’s usually the most ‘out-of-shape’ people who experience them the most. No matter what level of fitness you have now, discomfort and soreness are common complications. If left unacknowledged, they can result in more serious injuries that will put you on the sideline and throw a big dent into your fitness routine – and after losing the best part of six months of running last year, I know this only too well.

It’s important to remember that staying fit isn’t just about exercising as much as possible. It’s about proper maintenance and doing the little things that add up to a better overall approach. Sports massage and general massage are becoming increasingly popular among active people. They aren’t just a luxury, they can be used strategically to ensure that your body stays in good working order.

Is It Just For Pro Athletes?

Taipei marathon runners getting a post-run massage (Photo credit: Rico Shen, reproduced under CC3.0 licence).

Professional sports massage is usually associated with athletes performing in high-level events. While you might not need something so intensive, there are offshoots that apply the same basic principles. By focusing on the muscles you use the most, it can play a vital role in preventing injuries and healing your body. People who suffer from chronic pain can also benefit from the magic hands of a professional masseuse.

When done properly, a massage stimulates blood flow to specific areas. It can also help to relieve built-up tension and stress that manifests itself in knots. People who enjoy massages not only report positive physical effects, it can impact them mentally as well. After all, when you have an hour devoted entirely to your own relaxation, what could feel better than that?

The biggest question people ask themselves is whether a sports massage is worth the money. It’s definitely not considered a necessity but at the same time, it can keep you healthy in a variety of physical and emotional ways. For many people, that’s worth the price alone. It’s also a great chance to become familiar with staff who work at your local spa, or a great masseuse. These people can be wonderful resources that help you to tap into your own body. My sports physio gave me tons of great advice, and it was even more useful knowing that he himself was (and is!) an avid runner and triathlete – so much of what he told me came from his personal experiences, rather than textbooks. The whole routine can become a learning experience that helps to keep you on the right track.

How Much Does It Cost And Could I Do It Myself?

When I started physio, I couldn’t run more than 2 kilometers without breaking down and needing 2 weeks off to unclench my calf muscle. It became a ‘must do’ to find an expert to help me get back on feet again. But because I had left it so long, and presumably built up so many small injuries one on top of the other, I was spending money for over three months, and it cost quite a lot of money. Nevertheless, last week I completed my first half-marathon for over 25 years – that’s a fairly gruelling 21 kilometers of running, so the expense was well worth it!

However, for those without a lot of extra cash to spare, there are also a wide range of personal massagers you can use at home. While they’ll never be able to replace human hands, a lot of them use modern technology to give a great simulated experience. Best of all, ones found on sites like massagersage.com are extremely affordable, and you can use them continually on a long-term basis.

In the end, the decision whether or not to get a sports massage is up to you. If you have a particular nagging injury or soreness that won’t go away, you should definitely consult a professional. Start with your doctor to see if you’re a good candidate, and then do your research to find a good local spa or sports injury physio in your area. When the option of getting a massage is used intelligently, it can go a long way in helping you to stay fit. With your body in good working order, you’ll be able to handle more intensive types of exercise that burn more calories and build muscle mass. It’s consistency of training that is key, so any trick you can employ to keep yourself in tip top condition is worth investigating.

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