Having a muscle massage before or after strenuous activity has many benefits from pain reduction to increased performance. As a runner, I’ve recently discovered how a few minutes before and after exercise can really enhance my training and reduce injury downtimes.
How does muscle massage work?
When you massage your muscles it increases the circulation to the focus area. This oxygenated blood helps carry waste products such as lactic acid out of the muscles and it also stretches the muscles and prepares them for activity. When muscles become dehydrated the fibers can stick together and cause painful areas which are sometimes called “trigger points”. A muscle massage can soften these rigid areas and bring flexibility back to the muscles by lubricating the muscle fibers and allowing them to operate independently again.
I’m sure that many of you have heard the acronym of R-I-C-E: Rest – Ice – Compression – Elevation. RICE is often the prescription given to help sooth and heal sore, tired, and injured muscles. And it works. But wouldn’t it be nice to avoid the injury all together? I’ve been able to reduce muscle soreness and minimize injury downtime by adding some additional stretching and muscle massage. These minutes invested have saved me weeks from watching from the ‘sidelines’.
Over the years I would see a handful of marathon runners using a massage tool that looked like a rolling pin and it would make me laugh. After hobbling around for a week or two after the marathon with stiff and tired legs, I decided to give it a try. The product I purchased is called the Marathon Stick. It’s a lightweight massager with 10 spindles that spin freely on a durable plastic rod. It has proven its merit so much that I use it before and after most of my hard workouts and races. I no longer fear going down stairs after long runs (this will mean more to the long distance runners out there). I would highly recommend this product to anyone that is trying to increase their performance and minimize their downtime due to muscle soreness and injury. It’s a handy compact device that’s well worth the $30 that I spent on it.
Whether you opt to get a device similar to The Stick, or if you chose to hire a masseuse the benefits of muscle massage are too good to pass up from the fitness enthusiast to the serious athlete. Here’s a summary of the benefits you’ll receive:
- Help reduce muscle soreness, stiffness, and pain
- Increase blood flow into the muscles
- Increase oxygen flow into the muscles
- Stretch the muscles, decreasing the chances of injury
- Enhance the removal of lactic acid from sore muscles
- Reduced muscle fatigue
- Shortens the recovery time between workouts
If you think any of these benefits described above can help you in your fitness routine, why not find out for yourself how a muscle massage can work for you. The flexibility and health of your muscles are important factors in keeping you fit – make sure that you do the things to keep those good habits going!