Maybe it has been a day or two since your last rigorous workout and you feel like you need to find the license plate number on the 18-wheeler that hit you. That soreness, stiffness and general misery – what is it and what will make it go away?
Well, the pain is caused by is caused by microscopic tears in your muscle fibers from your muscles contracting during exercise. The repair process brings inflammation as an unpleasant side-effect. Those tears are actually a good thing, though, because as the muscles tear, your body sends repair signals to help you build new, bigger muscle. The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism, the better your bone and general health. So how can you get relief from these tiny tears? Massage therapy can actually help reduce your post-exercise inflammation and bring you some relief to the soreness, stiffness and decreased range of motion.
Anyone who has experienced a soothing, post-workout massage can tell you they felt like a million bucks, but now science is there to back up those testimonials. Recently, a team at the University of Illinois at Chicago, led by Dr. Nina Franklin, published a study on how massage helps reduce inflammation, speed the muscle healing process and bring pain relief by helping with blood circulation in your muscles.
The researchers studied 36 adults who had less than 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week and did not exercise regularly in the six months leading up to the study. Because they were studying blood-flow to muscles, the scientists excluded anyone who had cardiovascular disease, cancer or medication that would affect circulation. Using an ultrasound machine and a blood-pressure cuff, the scientists studied how well the subjects’ arteries dilated and how much muscle soreness they had (on a scale of one to ten) when an exercise pressed their muscles. Then, the subjects performed various exercises followed by 30 minutes of Swedish massage.
There was one group that exercised with no massage, one group that exercised followed by massage and one group that did neither. The findings showed that massage does, indeed, increase circulation and help reduce the inflammation caused by exercise. This study also shows that medical massage could be beneficial for patients with issues like hypertension (high blood pressure), wound healing and hypoxemia (low concentration of oxygen in the blood). You can read more details about this study in Massage Today.
So the next time you hit the gym, make a second stop – to your massage therapist’s table. Your post-workout massage will help increase your blood flow, decrease your soreness and help with your recovery time so that you can get back to exercising at full-throttle sooner. Plus you’ll get the added benefit of extra endorphins, those feel-good chemicals released in your brain by both massage and exercise, so you’ll leave with a better sense of calmness and well-being.
Let Medical Massage Specialties help with your post-workout routine. Talk to a massage therapist about your needs. Call 703-686-4092 or email us. We will help get you on the road to muscle recovery faster.
This article is for informational purposes only. The products and services described on this website are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Please speak with a doctor before beginning any new health regimen.