Whether you lift weights competitively or are actively engaged in the discipline because you enjoy the benefits you reap from your hard work at your neighborhood elite power gym, all the physical and social rewards of your focused energies don’t come without a price. As you know, after each serious round of weightlifting or grueling competition, your muscles need to recover – they need time and attention. One of the absolute best ways to continue to take care of and tend to your hard-working and often overused and overloaded muscles is through the natural healing art of a soft-tissue treatment.
Here’s a look at many of the real benefits of massage therapy for weightlifters.
In order for you to experience optimal performance each and every time you lift weights, you must be flexible. Massage therapy between workouts improves flexibility by gently stretching the muscle’s fibers. Whether sporadically or regularly engaging in high-volume and intensive-training cycles or competitive lifting tournaments, you can damage your muscles and cause too much micro-trauma which can lead to micro-adhesions ~ small, fibrous deposits or scar tissues when the muscle, fascia, and other tissues steadfastly stick together. Complications can further arise because with this decrease in flexibility, injury can occur more easily. In addition to creating scar tissues and being on the brink of potential injury, tightness and lack of flexibility can also lead to one muscle group being off-balance to the opposing muscles. This is often seen with individuals who frequently bench press. While they might have amazing, well-developed pecs, the opposing muscles in their backs are typically ignored, not as well-maintained, or not as nearly developed. The result? A hunched posture. This is neither attractive nor healthy. Scheduling routine massages into your workout regime will relieve tension, alleviate pain, give you a better range of motion, and increase your flexibility.
Massage therapy not only loosens tight muscles, but also improves circulation. Blood delivers oxygen and other nutrients through the body. Healthy blood flow throughout the body enables your organs to function properly, facilitates natural healing, reduces recovery time, and restores performance levels. With improved circulation through massage therapy, you’ll breathe deeper, easier, and fuller – and your blood will flow throughout your body as it should. Muscles that are tight provide an obstacle to adequate blood flow. This tends to slow down the removal of toxins. Normally, muscle development and strength building take place in the recovery phase of training, when the nutrients are needed to repair and strengthen the tissues broken down during training. You’ll experience less progress if your muscles are tight and blocking the flow of nutrients to the areas where they’re needed most. Massage therapy opens these lifelines.
Sometimes it’s not easy to relax. When you’re not in the gym working out, you’re thinking about being in the gym working out. Don’t think your tense? See how you feel when someone starts rubbing your shoulders. Instant karma! Imagine that feeling on all the muscles in your body. There is no amount of warm milk at bedtime, choirs of monks chanting, or yoga positions on a mountaintop that can decrease tension as quickly and wonderfully as massage therapy. Ideally, you will come to a point where you look forward to your relaxing “down time” in massage therapy as much as you look forward to “pumping it up” during your workouts. With a weekly massage, you’ll learn to relax both your body and your mind and become more focused and concentrated with everything you do in life – in addition to lifting weights.
Sleep plays a leading role in performance and recovery. Try going a few days without sleep and see how many buddies at your gym ask you to spot them. It’s impossible to be focused and have your body and mind in sync if you aren’t sleeping well. Massage therapy improves sleep. The last time you were fortunate enough to got a deep back rub from a friend or embraced the opportunity to get a professional massage from a licensed massage therapist, when it was over did you instantly then feel like running a marathon or relaxing for the evening? Massage therapy improves your ability to sleep more uninterrupted, peaceful hours. You already know what it feels like trying to relax and get comfortable when your body aches and your muscles are tense. Massage therapy is the way for you to thank your body for all its hard work during the day. You’re acknowledging, attending to, and working toward soothing overworked muscles. As a result, both the quality and quantity of your sleep improves. The more sleep you have, the better you perform in your next day’s workout or competition.
The body uses pain as a way to communicate to you that something isn’t quite right. When you’re in pain, it’s difficult (if not nearly impossible) to perform at your peak level. What’s the first thing you do when a part of your body suddenly aches? What’s the first thing you do when you have a migraine? You reach for it. You rub it. You hold it. You massage it. Choosing to continue to lift while in pain can cause further injury. Massage therapy is a natural, simple way to alleviate your pain, stretch the muscles, provide a strong supply of oxygenated blood, and remove wastes from damaged tissues. Unlike some other options many choose to eliminate or coat their pain, massage therapy has no negative side effects. The next morning after a massage therapy session, you’ll remember what you did the day before, you won’t have to check to make sure your car is safe and in the garage, and you won’t have to apologize to anyone.
A licensed massage therapist is trained to use different movements and pressure levels to provide relief to your overworked muscles. Long strokes are used to move fluid through the body; the force of the stroke causes pressure to build in front of the stroke. As fluid moves forward, carrying toxins with it, a void is created behind the stroke. This is where the fresh, oxygenated blood and nutrients rush in. Deep tissue massage reaches deeper within the tough tissues, seeking to open up their pores and further improve the blood flow. As more liquid is transferred, more toxins are removed and a greater supply of oxygenated blood and nutrients are provided. During a massage, muscles are stretched both lengthwise and sideways. As the tissues are stretched, muscle fibers are able to release tension and dissipate built-up pressure.
It’s impossible to go full force – 24/7. Your body, your mind, and your spirit need time to rejuvenate, relax, and rebuild. Massage therapy is a powerful tool, an available option, and a necessary resource to add to your workout regime. Even embracing massage therapy once a week can help your body improve circulation, effectively deliver blood and nutrients, and remove toxins ~ all of which increase the health of internal tissues. This rejuvenation reduces pain and protects against injury while improving your health and quality of life. Schedule a massage therapy session this week and see what you’ve been missing; your body will thank you.