If you’ve ever laid down on a massage table for a session, chances are you know that massages feel good. But, how exactly can it help improve your athletic performance? The magic in massage lies in its ability to move your tissue in a way that will help to restore muscle elasticity and promote recovery. The kneading, pulling, and pushing also encourages better blood flow and acts as a flushing tool to help push waste products back into circulation and out of the muscle thereby helping to alleviate muscle soreness.
There are many different types of massages from those focused more on relaxation and recovery to harder options more geared towards breaking down knots and adhesions in the muscle fibers. While both approaches have specific applications, the end goal of massage is still to improve movement through increasing flexibility and tissue quality. Dr. Mike Reinold, head physical therapist for the Boston Red Sox, adds, “As a society, we are sitting more and more each year, which is leading to more postural adaptations and areas of tightness that can be limiting your fitness gains. Massage is an excellent resource to help address these tight areas, allowing you to move better and get more from your workouts.”
Massage can be a useful tool in your arsenal to improve recovery time between exercise bouts and enhance flexibility that may be limited following extensive strength training. If you can’t make it to a therapist on a regular schedule, you can still reap many of the benefits through incorporating foam rolling and other self-massage variations into your routine. Start your workout by hitting a few commonly tight areas like the chest, lats, and quads with a foam roller. End with a slower, more concentrated roll over areas targeted in the workout. As frequently as possible, splurge on a good massage therapist that can target specific areas and develop a strategic approach for a stronger, more flexible you.