Improve your performance with massage! It’s so often thought of as a luxury but slowly, massage is being recognised as an important part of athletic recovery and plays a major role in improving your performance. Here are a few reasons why.
We all look for that edge. Whether that’s using the latest compression gear, drinking electrolyte sports drinks, having ice baths or practicing meditation (Which are all good things to adopt.) We test our limits to the point of exhaustion only to do the same thing the session after.
Only in the last decade has massage come to the forefront of athletic performance. Attributed to recovery, it’s often we will see athletes come in once they have injured themselves or trying to prevent a niggle from turning into an injury. The great thing about massage is that it can and will enhance your performance. It reduces the heart rate and blood pressure, increases blood circulation and lymph flow, reduces muscle tension/spasm, improves range of motion, and helps relieve pain.
A variety of techniques will be used dependant on each individual’s situation. Cross-Fiber Massage Friction techniques create a stretching and broadening effect which help to reduce adhesions and to help create strong, flexible repair during the healing process.
Trigger Point Massage, which tends to be the most painful, reduces spasms within the muscle fibres and referred pain patterns. Trigger point techniques reduce the spasms and pain that occur both in the injured and “compensation” muscles. Compensation muscles being the ones that have to take extra load due to the spasm within the primary muscle. Here is an example of how trigger points can present. A common trigger point we see is one in the trapezius near the border of the scapula. This little trigger point is often the culprit for those nasty headaches after a long day at the computer desk. Left untreated, such trigger/tender points often lead to restricted and painful movement of entire body.
The most important thing to know is that you are unique. Your needs will be different to the people you train with. Make sure you communicate with your therapist what it is you are training for, the intensity of your training and most importantly when the event is.
There is no use in training for a marathon and getting a massage the week before the event and expecting to run a PB. Nor is it reasonable to expect massage to work the miracles of (what should be) a combination of recovery/performance enhancing methods such as stretching, foam rolling/spikey ball release, good nutrition and most importantly sleep! The overall objective of massage for recovery and enhanced performance, is determining the right maintenance program for each individual to reach optimal performance through injury-free training.