Every athlete knows that a massage feels great, and can be a welcome reward after a hard training session. However, sportspeople need to understand how regular massage can assist in recovery and help aid performance.
Intense training or competition will invariably lead to an increase in resting muscle tone – so called “tight muscles”. This increased tightness impairs the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to the muscle cells, and slows the removal of waste by-products. These factors will reduce the effectiveness of muscular contraction, and limit performance. Tightness will also place greater strain on the joints and the muscle structure itself, leaving the athlete more susceptible to injury. “Trigger Points” may also develop within the muscle, which contribute to a reduction in strength and can lead to pain.
Massage by a qualified practitioner can help reduce the excessive tone, improve range of motion, and increase circulation and nutrition. Specific massage will also deactivate trigger points.
Regular massage can therefore help to improve performance, and prevent injury. In addition the masseur will also be in a position to identify any soft tissue abnormalities which, if left untreated, may progress to injury.
For all these reasons, massage should not be seen as just a reward, but as an essential component of athletic training.