Tough daily training sessions. Weekend races and competitions. Pushing your limits to hit a PR. Athletes live life differently. You ask more from your body, you skirt the line between injury and performance, and you also know that anything that improves your recovery can improve your training. While the benefits of massages include everything from improving cardiovascular health to decreasing depression, there are special benefits of regular massage for athletes. If you’re used to pushing your body to perform, here is why massage can improve your recovery and performance.
Massage reduces DOMS.
If you train hard, you’re already well-acquainted with Delayed On-set Muscle Soreness (DOMS). One of the biggest benefits of massage for athletes is its ability to reduce DOMS. In a clinical study, a brief massage of just ten minutes was demonstrated to reduce DOMS by 30%! That means you don’t need to commit to a full spa session. Chair massages and even in-home massage chairs can reduce your post-workout soreness by focusing on the muscles that you use the most in your training.
Massage helps athletes recover faster.
Finding the perfect training schedule means balancing your need for recovery with opportunities to challenge your body. When you recover more quickly, you can train harder and more frequently. When it comes to recovery, circulation is your best friend. Increases in blood and lymph flow through massage may be responsible for a quicker recovery of your muscles, allowing them to adapt to your training and prepare for the next challenge.
Massage is time efficient.
Finding time to train is tough enough. Busy athletes frequently have a hard time justifying the time spent on recovery, especially when it comes at the expense of more time with family or in the gym. Fortunately, in-home options for massage can fit easily into your day. Whether you choose to pamper yourself with a massage chair or use a foam roller to target your mobility, it only takes a brief session to experience the benefits of massage for athletes.
Massage helps athletes prevent injury.
Regular massage has been demonstrated to improve joint range of motion. For athletes, this is a big deal. Whether you are cranking out overhead presses or sprinting your final mile, a compromised range of motion will force your body to compensate with less than stellar form. This is especially risky when you are the most fatigued. Investing in targeted massage benefits athletes by reducing this risk of injury and improving performance.
Massage reduces cortisol.
While anyone can benefit from the stress relieving effects of massage, reducing cortisol is especially beneficial for athletes. Tough training sessions and competitions increase the level of cortisol in our bodies. Unfortunately, elevated cortisol inhibits muscle growth and recovery, contributes to symptoms of overtraining, reduces immunity, and can even increase fat storage. Relaxing with a massage following a tough training session benefits your entire body by decreasing cortisol and increasing both dopamine and serotonin. This means you’ll feel better, sleep better, and increase your ability to train hard.
Athletes need to take advantage of every opportunity to improve performance and recovery while reducing injury risks. Combined with adequate rest, hydration, and on-point nutrition, regular massage may be the single-most effective way to improve your training and performance. While spa sessions are a nice treat, the time and expense involved prevent athletes from gaining all the benefits of massage. To experience the benefits of regular massage for athletes, find a way to make it convenient and accessible. That might mean chair massages while shopping or at work, a home massage chair, or mobility tools. Keep these items where you are most likely to use them and commit to brief regular sessions. Your body and your performance will thank you!