How Massage Can Help Athletes Year-Round
You’re a true athlete. You’re used to working hard, exhausting your body, and developing your mental stamina— as well as your physical stamina— year round. Even in the off-season, you don’t quit. You’re used to spending your downtime preparing for the next season, and getting faster, stronger, and better at what you do.
The idea of using massage to improve your game might sound silly. Who needs a spa day to improve your game on the football field? But the truth is, more and more professional sports teams are employing full-time massage therapists to work with their athletes. Why? It really does make you a better athlete.
So how exactly can a few sessions or regular appointments on a massage table work to improve your game, or make you faster or stronger? There’s a lot that goes into it. Here are a few reasons why you should consider adding a regular massage into your training routine.
Improve Recovery After a Workout
Especially if you’re in the off-season and haven’t worked a particular muscle group in a while— even just a few days— you know that delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) can leave you feeling stiff, fatigued, and achy. DOMS affects your workouts over the following days; your muscles feel weaker and you can’t work quite as hard as you’d like.
Whether it’s after a tough race or while you’re training like crazy during the off-season, your body needs time to recover. DOMS is one of the ways your body handles the pressure of increased physical activity.
So how can you avoid the downsides of DOMS? Massage has been shown to reduce the pain and discomfort of DOMS by 30%. A recent study in the Journal of Sports Sciences showed that male bodybuilders recovered more quickly after a hard workout when they followed up with a sports massage.
Think of it as an even more targeted session than the one you get with your foam roller for myofascial release. As you roll out your muscles, you actually increase your short-term flexibility for around 10 minutes. This means you’re able to crush your workout even more after a foam rolling session.
However, a foam roller can only do so much. You’re only targeting large muscle groups, and your roller can’t get very specific. This is where a massage therapist comes in.