While many people think of massage as just a feel-good sort of luxury, Massage therapy has long been used as a recovery method for athletes. While many athletes have known for years that massage can help to reduce soreness after an intense workout, science is suggesting there’s much more to it than just making us feel better. Over the last several years, as more studies have been done in the field of massage. Through testing, researchers were looking to see how massage affected when an athlete’s muscles were ready to return to activity.
A 2015 study examined if massage could increase post-workout strength and body awareness (proprioception). To do this they focused their testing on the gastrocnemius (the large muscle of the calf). Each participant ran up and down a 5 story building twenty times. Following this, half the subjects received a 15-minute massage to the lower legs and the other half did not.
What they found was that the subjects who received massage had more strength and improved proprioception and muscular architecture. While massage isn’t going to replace lifting weights, the return of strength and the expression of strength and technique is increased when massage is applied directly following an intense workout; that means you’ll not only feel better quicker, but you can also get back into the action much sooner.
Another study discovered that massage decreased the activity of a protein called NF-kB, which causes exercise-related inflammation, and increased the activity of a protein called PGC-1alpha, which spurs the production of new mitochondria. This means, on a cellular level, massage is decreasing inflammation and increasing cellular repair after exercise, suggesting that massage doesn’t just make you feel better after a workout, but truly helps your body repair itself much faster.
If you love to push yourself at the gym or you are training for a big event, be sure a schedule massage right after intense workouts to get the most benefit. Better yet, our Monthly massage membership programs offer a great opportunity to make regular Massage part of your Wellness Program.
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