Having massage during training for an event and after the event itself is a popular method of assisting muscle recovery. It feels great to have your tired muscles soothed and it’s relaxing as well.
But the benefits go well beyond just the feelgood factor. Research has shown that massage also delivers a range of functional and performance-enhancing benefits.
Here’s our 5 reasons why sports massage is good for recovery;
1. Massage reduces DOMS
A 2015 study amongst ultramarathon runners showed that sports massage is a beneficial treatment for reducing delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), especially during its peak 48-72 hours after exercise. This may be because it increases blood and lymph flow to muscles, helping clear away biochemical markers of muscle damage. What’s most significant about this is that massage appears to be the only thing that has been shown to ease DOMS – DOMS does not appear to respond to medication or rest.
2. Massage is prehabilitative
Massage is a valuable and effective technique for addressing muscular tightness and pain, both during training and post-event. Having massage during training ensures that tight muscles and any niggling pains are addressed as they arise, rather than allowing them to become worse and affect your training. After an event, if any areas became sore during the race you can have them addressed.
3. Massage helps maintain flexibility
Regular massage during training can reduce tightness in muscles from exercise, helping to maintain functional muscle length and range of motion through the joints. This means better quality and ease of movement, and reduced injury risk, thus benefiting all aspects of training.
4. Massage helps prevent injury whilst training
When injuries happen during training, the most common cause is overuse, with muscles getting tight and overworked and niggles becoming pain. Sports massage can help muscles recover, stay limber and if you have picked up any little niggles, it’s a great way to address them before they turn into something worse.
5. Massage boosts recovery
When training hard and doing events, the ability to switch off – mentally as well as physically – is key to recovery. Having massage throughout your training and after an event can help bring in this important aspect of recovery.
When you’re fatigued and recovering, it’s a huge boost to your body to do something that makes you feel psychologically good. The feelings of relaxation and wellbeing that massage delivers is a great way to help maintain motivation throughout a lengthy training programme. Additionally, Studies have shown that this relaxation aspect of massage has the psychophysiological effect of reducing the perception of pain – helping to manage any niggles or injuries that arise in training and events.
So, if you’re training for an event, invest in your performance and recovery by having regular massage. And don’t forget to book one in a day or two after your event – when you’re likely to need it most.
Effects of different recovery strategies following a half-marathon on fatigue markers in recreational runners | PLOS ONE
Effect of massage on DOMS in ultramarathon runners: A pilot study – ScienceDirect
Frontiers | Massage Alleviates Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness after Strenuous Exercise: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis (frontiersin.org)
Does Sports Massage Actually Help? | Expert Physio Reviews The Evidence #sportsmassage – YouTube