Perth based massage therapist Katie Hill explains the benefits of regular massage, and how it can help to maintain and improve muscular health...
January; the month of resolutions, new beginnings and, more often than not, the start of a journey to better health. After a (glorious) month of Christmas parties, indulgence and vegetation, most of us are digging deep into the wardrobe to locate and dust off the temporarily abandoned trainers, ready to sweat off those delicious Christmas trimmings.
Lycra clad and game face on, we hit the gym/treadmill at full force, determined to lose the festive wobble and coax the abs of steel out of hibernation. Brilliant.
Unfortunately for many of us, before we reach the bikini-body-of-a-Greek God/Godess status, we are put off by aches and pains or hindered by niggles…which turn into injuries…and, before we know it, we are back on the sofa feeling frustrated and de-motivated (with a box of chocolates for comfort)
Bob’s your uncle – and we’re back at square one.
Ok, so this may be a little extreme (I’m feeling dramatic this morning) but all too often we throw our bodies into training without giving our muscles the attention they need to stay balanced and healthy.
Most of us look after our cars better than we do our own bodies, putting them through regular services and checks to ensure little problems don’t turn in to costly repairs. Our bodies work on the same principle as our cars…look after your body and it will run more smoothly and last longer.
If you are reading this thinking it doesn’t apply to you as you do little physical exercise, think again. If you leave your car sitting for long periods of time with no attention or movement similar problems can occur!
Regular massage is like an MOT for your muscles and can help prevent those aches and niggles becoming debilitating injuries. Maintaining muscle health also helps improve performance, ensuring you get the most out of every training session, keeping you on track to reaching your goals.
You may now be wondering how exactly massage helps to maintain and improve muscular health, well brace yourself, here comes the science bit…
In sport, most injuries occur through overuse, and can build up unnoticed over a period of time. This often explains why muscles just seem to ‘go’ doing the smallest of movements. Massage is dedicated as much to injury prevention as it is to injury treatment and rehabilitation.
Many common overuse injuries develop as a result of poor muscle recovery.
It’s no easy task for the body to remove the waste that accumulates in our muscles during hard exercise. It takes time for the blood circulating through the muscle to supply the ingredients necessary to repair any damage fibres, and replenish the nutritional level of the fatigued muscle.
Massage pumps large volumes of blood through the muscles and speeds-up these processes enormously. With quicker and more complete recovery you can increase both the quantity and quality of training whilst reducing the risk of injury.
For those of you who have had a sports/remedial massage in the past, you have most likely been in a situation whereby your therapist has identified areas of pain and tension that you did not realise you had. These may be sites of potential overuse injury, and massage can help deal with these areas before they affect training and performance.
Injury to a muscle, both major and minor, results in a build-up of scar tissue which can lead to inflexible tissues prone to further injury and discomfort. Massage helps to break down scar tissue, relieving pain and restoring muscle function and flexibility. This, in turn, also allows you to get the most out of your training.
So. Now that you know the facts, don’t allow injury to stand in the way of your health goals this year. I used a car analogy earlier. The only difference between your body and your motor is that, when your car packs in, you can pop down to the local dealer and buy yourself a shiny new one. You only have one body…so make sure you treat it with care! After all, if you don’t look after your body, where else are you going to live?
Here’s to a healthy, injury free 2017!