Sports massage is one of the tools we use regularly at JT Ethos both as a stand-alone service and as an integral part of our integrated programmes. In the course of the next 2 blogs I shall outline the benefits of sports massage (the what) and the reasons why it’s a good idea (the why).
Sports massage has benefits for different parts of the body: the mind, the body as a whole and the muscles tissues.
The Mind: Massage causes the release of endorphins from either the hypothalamus or the pituitary glands. Endorphins create a ‘natural high’ which can boost feelings of calm and relaxation. decrease anxiety and help to improve mood.
The Global Body: The release of endorphins outlined above also helps sports massage to cause a reduction of pain. The mental relaxation outlined above also transmits to the physical body and helps the muscles tissues to relax. This relaxation travels to the whole body, it isn’t just restricted to the muscles that are being massaged. Sports massage has also been credited with relieving and preventing the delayed onset of muscular soreness (DOMS). This the what we know as waking up the morning after a workout and feeling stiff as a board and the accompanying groans as you try to get out of bed!
The Muscle Tissues: Sports massage encourages blood flow both to and away from the muscles and also enhances the flow of lymph fluid away from the muscles. Lymph flow is a passive process and therefore needs assistance (from any or all of massage, gravity or muscular contraction) to be able to work. Sports massage helps to lengthen muscles, often able to reach muscles that stretching cannot target particularly well and it improves the elasticity of the muscles. Muscle elasticity is essential for efficient contraction and relaxation of muscles. Decreased elasticity corresponds directly to decreased muscles efficiency, meaning it takes more effort to make the same power – i.e. you get slower/weaker/ more unfit. The final benefit to the muscles tissues is an increased permeability through the cell wall. This enhances the transfer of nutrients into the cell and waste products out of the cell improving its ability to recover, ready for the next workout.
That’s the technical bit out of the way but you may well be asking “so what?”. Well in Part 2 we’ll be discussing the reasons why anybody exercising more than once a week should be considering building a regular sports massage into their regime.