The Workout Recovery Step You’re Probably Not Taking (It’s Relaxing Too)
It Might Be Time For a Massage
If we put into action any sort of recovery after our workouts it’s generally in the form of simply taking a day off to chill, maybe doing some foam rolling and stretching. But there’s a recovery step that can transform your relationship with your body, and it’s as simple as getting a massage. Massages get a rep for being simply a relaxation tool and while they can certainly be that, they are also used for a whole lot more. Professional athletes get massages multiple times a week to help their muscles recover and to keep their body in peak performance shape. While you probably don’t need (or have time for) that many massages in your schedule, you should be penciling them in occasionally.
Massages have been proven effective at reducing pain, so whether you’re dealing with general soreness or an injury that just won’t quite heal they have been proven to help. When the muscles get massaged the circulation in the body is increased, which means that more nutrients can get to the muscles faster which encourages faster recover. Every time you workout you create small tears in tissues and massing these areas allows for a faster emptying of any residual waste that’s hanging around.
Since massages can be so relaxing, they are also a useful tool for lowering the blood pressure which can help keep your cardiovascular system and general stress levels in check. When you get a massage the lymph in your body is encouraged to move more quickly through the body which coupled with the increase of white blood cells moving through the body can slow the amount of cortisol that moves through the body. Cortisol is a stress hormone that we like to avoid as much as possible.
Cortisol can elevate the blood pressure and actually weaken the immune system. When you counteract that with massage you will also be encouraging the body to release more serotonin which not only helps to promote relaxation and good sleep, but it also helps to control the blood pressure and the heart rate. Any type of massage can help in this department, but a more gentle Swedish massage might be preferable if the other types of sports massage are a little too intense to completely bliss out on the table. It’s best to get a relaxing massage at the end of the day so that you can actually enjoy and draw out the relaxed feeling instead of having to rush back into your normal daily activities.
Getting post workout massages will also help with your flexibility. Areas in the body with tight muscles have adhesions and sometimes scar tissue, but massage can help to gently break these up which allow for greater range of movement over all. The more neutral your body can be positioned on a regular basis the better, and the less muscle adhesions you’re dealing with the more freedom of movement you will have for your future workouts. Myofascial massage is best for this, and also what you perform on yourself using a foam roller.