January is here and like a lot of people out there, I’ve sacked off lazing in front of the TV and eating too many Christmas chocolates, to start the new year with a positive mindset. This means I am back to my training schedule - one that had lapsed over the winter and Christmas period! I’m now keen to regain my fitness levels and shed a few pounds so I can think about fitting into a swimming costume again this summer.
I love running and whilst I don’t hear the call of the gym, an intense workout is really appealing. However, the muscle soreness and stiffness over the next few days can be off putting. Also, regular exercise can be daunting when your body is stiff and achy and can easily play a part in creating an excuse not to workout today.
Massage helps alleviate DOMS - delayed onset of muscle soreness
Regular massage along with stretching and sauna or heat treatments can help alleviate the post exercise soreness. This is known as DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness) which often occurs 24-72hrs post workout. Massage can help prevent injury, reduce achiness and help your body recover more quickly. Massage reduces tension, aiding in more efficient removal of waste products and increasing range of movement in the joints.
During an intense workout, lactic acid is produced when the body switches energy production as it doesn’t have enough oxygen to produce the energy required in the muscles. The build up of this can lead to stiff, sore muscles the next day. However, massage techniques can help improve circulation and reduce the lactic acid build-up post workout, allowing faster recovery and resumption of training.
Massage helps reduce inflammation within the muscle fibres which will reduce pain and restore flexibility. Massage can also increase recovery time and allow a quicker return to training. Decreasing inflammation to the muscle cells relieves stimulations to nerve endings which activate pain receptors.
How massage helps with healing and muscle soreness
Just like a workout, massage releases hormones such as endorphins, serotonin and dopamine, which are feel-good hormones produced in the brain and help with the release and relaxation of the muscle groups, encouraging blood flow and improving our mental fatigue post workout.
After intense activity, the rebuilding process within the muscles can lead to pain and soreness. Muscle strain can vary from slight to severe muscular stiffness, to debilitating pain that restricts movement. This pain is due to the micro tears in the muscle fibres which need to repair and heal. Massage improves circulation of blood flow which can assist cellular rebuilding, healing to damaged and affected areas.
There has been little research done to prove the benefits of massage post exercise, but one study conducted in 2005 in the USA concludes that massage reduces muscle soreness (DOMS) by 30% post workout and that it reduces swelling.
Which massage treatments are best post-exercise?
I have been a massage therapist for over 10 years now and during this time I have treated many clients with sport or exercise related aches and pains. Each client is different and therefore so is each treatment. Often I will use a combination of clinical sports massage, table shiatsu, trigger point therapy, hot stone therapy, myofascial release and stretching.
I have gotten to know the patterns of my regular clients over the years and a consultation before and after massage is really important for my learning and to ensure that the treatments I deliver are appropriate each time.
Whether you are new to exercise (or like me getting back on track) and you’re interested in trying massage therapy to help soothe sore muscles or heal injuries, do get in touch with me on 07866 700976 or email firstname.lastname@example.org