Whether it’s to lose a few pounds to be able to fit into an old pair of pants or to simply take better care of themselves, more and more people are starting to realize all the benefits of psychical activity. In combination with a balanced diet and some other good habits, exercise is key for being healthy.
However, just learning how to do each exercise properly and doing as many reps as possible is not enough to experience all the perks of working out. You also have to think about recovery. For example, staying hydrated and eating a healthy snack within 45 minutes helps the recovery process.
Something else that you should think about adding to your post-recovery routine is a massage. If you are not already familiar, there are many ways how a massage can help you after a workout. Keep on reading to learn more.
Your muscles will appreciate the recovery aid
People who are new to exercising on a regular basis might not be aware of the importance of recovery. If you’ve just recently decided to start a new weight-loss or muscle-gain program, you might be tempted to push your body over its limits in hopes of reaching your goal faster. However, the only thing that you will get in such a way is an injury. Recovery is not something that you should skip as it allows for improved performance once the body has healed itself as well as lowers the risk of injury. While enough sleep, proper nutrition, hydration, and warmup and cool-down exercises all help with recovery, getting a massage is another great way how you can assist your body during the recovery process.
Working out every day can leave you with tense and sore muscles and a stiff back. For example, if you use the hack squat machine during every single workout, you can expect some sore muscles and limbs. Moreover, it’s not uncommon to experience either acute muscle soreness during exercise or delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) a day or two after working out. Additionally, crunches, for instance, can lead to a stiff back as you are exerting your muscles.
All of these issues can greatly be alleviated with a massage. A 2017 review of several studies concluded that getting a massage after an intense workout results in significantly less soreness. With that in mind, you should look for a professional masseuse in your area that will help you relieve soreness and stiffness. By telling your massage therapist which pressure points you are having trouble with, they will know whether to focus on your hips, hamstrings, back, and so on.
It can help you with improving flexibility
Feeling sore and stiff is in no way pleasant but it can also limit your flexibility. While reduced flexibility can restrict your movements and be painful, there are various types of massage that can help you increase your range of motion.
For example, if you opt for a deep tissue massage, the massage therapist will get deeper into your muscles and decrease the inelasticity of the muscular tissues. The pressure of a deep tissue massage varies depending on your preference and tolerance.
Another type of massage that can increase flexibility is a sports massage. This often intense type of massage focuses on areas that contain soft tissues and increases muscle temperature. Reducing restriction of motions is the main aim of a sports massage, which should not come as a surprise as many athletes turn to it to be able to perform on the highest of levels.
Then, there is also the therapeutic kind of massage that focuses on the superficial layers of muscles and tissues. This encourages them to loosen up, which results in a decrease in pain and increased flexibility.
Professional massage therapists know which techniques to use in order to improve your flexibility. They can use kneading, deep strokes, and myofascial release to help you reach your flexibility goal. However, as you usually cannot visit an expert after every workout, you can start giving yourself massages. You can probably reach most parts of your body so doing some research to make sure you do it right can be of immense help. Consider asking a friend or your partner to help you out if you’re feeling particularly sore and can’t reach the areas you are struggling with.
A massage can boost your circulation
The human body has two main types of circulation. These are the circulation of blood flow and the circulation of lymph flow. Poor circulation leads to increased swelling, tension, tightness, and even pain. Fortunately, massages can help with your circulation. By creating friction between your skin and their fingers, professionals can stimulate your circulation and decrease pain and swelling.
Excellent lymphatic circulation will aid you in removing toxins and waste products from your body and promote healthier muscles that will not tire easily. That is why you need to look for a massage therapist that offers sports massages, remedial massages, and Swedish massages. These types are often used to stimulate blood and lymphatic flow.
If you’re thinking about massaging yourself, you should research techniques such as wringing, effleurage, and lymphatic drainage. Something else you can do is get a foam roller and look up some tutorials on YouTube on how to properly use one. There are many massage therapists and fitness trainers offering help for free so there is no lack of resources you can use to make yourself feel better after a particularly grueling workout.
Massages can relieve various types of pain
In case you were testing your limits and pushed past what you can do, you might have injured yourself. Of course, if the condition is serious, you might need to visit your physician to see whether you only need rest or if surgery might be necessary. However, if you’ve simply twisted your ankle or done one too many reps and feel strained, a simple massage can be of great help in alleviating your pain.
What is more, it’s not just workout-related pain that massages can relieve. If you suffer from fibromyalgia, have rheumatoid arthritis pain, or often experience headaches, a massage can relieve or reduce the pain caused by these conditions. Managing low-back pain and chronic neck pain as well as decreasing symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are benefits of getting a massage too.
Experts often used deep tissue massages, remedial massages, and Swedish massages to decrease pain. During a deep tissue massage, muscle tightness and restriction are reduced, which can lower pain levels. Remedial massages increase relaxation and improve muscle condition through the manipulation of deep and superficial tissues, in addition to having a therapeutic effect.
Not being able to visit your massage therapist on a daily basis can be a real problem if you’re in pain. However, in addition to self-massages and foam rollers, you can also look into relaxing massage chairs. These are made to mimic the experience that trained masseurs and massage therapists can provide you with. By equipping your home with one of these, you can relax and rejuvenate your body whenever you need to, without having to book an appointment. There are various types of massage chairs so make sure you do some research to pick the right one for yourself and your needs.
Your skin will feel rejuvenated
While this might not be something you are thinking about during your workouts, massages can also make your skin feel rejuvenated and much healthier. For starters, we already mentioned that improved blood flow is one of the benefits of getting a massage. Well, good circulation will give your skin a glow and improve its look and feel.
Something else that blood circulation helps with is skin regeneration. If you’ve experienced a significant weight loss, massages can help your skin bounce back and be tight once again. Moreover, massages can also heal stretch marks and break down scar tissue.
Then, depending on the type of massage you opt for, your skin can also be exfoliated on a regular basis. Massages reduce the buildup of dead skin cells, which improves the health and appearance of your skin and whole body. Exfoliating will also tighten your pores and improve your skin’s texture.
Masseurs use quality oils during a massage, meaning that your skin will be smooth, hydrated, and nourished after your session. The skin can absorb all the nutrients in the oil much more easily through a massage, so why not use this great way to stay moisturized.
It also has mental health benefits
Besides various physical benefits, massages can also help with many mental health issues. While more studies should be conducted in order to have more conclusive findings, many people feel that massage therapy can ease depressive feelings.
Having problems with stiffness or struggling with a limited range of motions after a strenuous workout can make you sluggish. If you are also in pain, you might start feeling depressive if you can’t move around as much as you’re used to. Getting a massage can alleviate your joint or back pain and increase your flexibility, which can get you moving about once again.
Although a massage can help release serotonin, noradrenalin, and dopamine, keep in mind that this does not mean that massages can completely cure your depression, if you already have it. It just means that it can provide you with the tools necessary for you to go on about your day. If you suspect that you are suffering from depression, contact your doctor to see whether they will recommend therapy, medication, or a combination of the two.
There are various approaches to massage therapy that can help ease your symptoms. While some involve direct contact with the skin, others involve over-the-clothes touching. Your massage therapist might use warm stones, acupuncture needles, and complex twisting poses. From Swedish and deep tissue massages to Shiatsu, reflexology, and aromatherapy massages, there are many types you can try out to see which one provides you with the best benefits.
You will feel more relaxed
In addition to depression, the release of happy hormones during a massage can also help with stress and anxiety. While we all might suffer from stress due to our busy lives, even people with more serious anxiety disorders can benefit from a massage.
Therapeutic, remedial, and Swedish massages can all be used to increase relaxation and get rid of pain and tension in your body that could be leading to stress. The goal of these massages is to replace cortisol, a negative hormone that can cause stress, anxiety, depression, and increased pain, with serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins.
Your quality of sleep will improve
A big part of mental health is getting enough sleep. Moreover, quality sleep is also vital in order to be able to work out.
When getting a massage, your nervous system will slow down due to the pressure, which can help get you to dreamland faster. Plus, you can also sleep longer. So, if you’ve been having some trouble falling asleep lately, you should not overlook these amazing benefits of massages.
What is more, deep sleep is restorative as well and it can help reduce pain by reducing your substance P levels. Therefore, not only will a massage directly help your pain levels but it will also do it by encouraging quality sleep.
You will maximize your performance
Take into account every benefit of getting a massage that we’ve listed above and you can see how it can affect your performance in many ways. From improving the quality of your sleep and preparing you for a new day to improving flexibility and reducing pain all the way to alleviating depression symptoms, massages help your whole body recover and thrive.
You will not be in any kind of pain and all your tissues and muscles will be loosened and stretched, which means that you should not have any physical obstacles on your fitness journey. Furthermore, getting regular massages will also take care of your mental health, so you can be in the right mindset as well. There is nothing stopping you from making the most of every single workout session.
If you think that there is no way how you can benefit from a massage, take these nine reasons into consideration and book an appointment as soon as possible. You will not regret it.
Jack Kewell is writer, science editor, naturalist, entrepreneur. He is focused on writing and illustrating books. Also, he is a regular contributor on mountaintechblog