Whether you run for fun, competition or stress relief, here are four ways massage therapy can significantly improve your running potential:
1. Reduced Muscle Pain and Fatigue
When you have started a new training program, increased the intensity of your training or are simply just running more mileage, massage therapy can be extremely helpful. Often times, the increased workload results in muscle pain and fatigue. This pain is caused by the release of body-producing toxins such as lactic acid into the tissue. When left untreated, the tissue can become damaged over time. Where there is muscle damage, there is less circulation. Reduced circulation can lead to congestion, tightness and shortening of the tissue.
2. Increased Circulation and Blood Flow
Massage increases circulation and blood flow. With this increased circulation, overall healing is expedited by triggering the immune system to promote a healing response in the tissue.
Following a run, the body needs to recover from the stresses places upon it. When muscles are challenged during a run, the body releases toxins into the tissue. Massage is one of the quickest ways to promote recovery because it helps release these toxins from the tissue. In conjunction with proper hydration, toxins are flushed from the system, thus helping lessen soreness and fatigue while helping freshen your legs for your next workout.
3. Increased Flexibility
Increasing an athlete’s range of motion can help improve performance. When we can move properly, we can run more efficiently.
A good massage helps rebalance the musculoskeletal system. Runners frequently experience pain and tightness in the IT Band, Achilles tendon, knees and hamstrings. Many runners can pinpoint where they are experiencing pain. A good therapist will evaluate pre-exsiting conditions and postural errors that could be contributing to pain, as the source of pain is usually not where the pain is manifesting itself. For example, pain in the hamstring may be attributed to limited lumbar mobility. The hamstring could be over-stretched and compensating for shortening of the hip flexors. The body is like a weight and pulley system. When a muscle experiences fatigue from overuse, another muscle will kick in to try and bring balance back to the body. Often times, this secondary muscle is not meant to sustain that kind of responsibility. When left untreated, it undergoes strain and, much like a domino effect, other muscles become involved and affected. A good therapist will analyze all these factors and develop an appropriate treatment plan to help break a cycle of recurring injury.
Lastly, massage promotes relaxation, which has myriad benefits. Relaxing the muscles also helps relax the mind and reduces stress, which can help re-energize you following a big race or tough workout, or even when the craziness of life combined with the demands of training start to wear on you.
Visit the SPORTS MASSAGE treatment menu.
Prenatal massage has gained a lot of momentum over the past several years. Many women will seek massage specifically for their pregnancies even if they wouldn't have incorporated it into their schedules before. So, why is prenatal massage so important? In addition to all of the regular benefits, prenatal massage has some benefits specific to pregnant women.
Just like with regular massage, prenatal massage can help to improve circulation. This is especially important during pregnancy because your blood supply increases to about double the amount found in non-pregnant women. The improvement in your circulation from regular prenatal massage can result in benefits such as a decrease in swelling and a reduction of numbness/tingling. This can feel especially good in the last months of pregnancy when most women experience an increase in swelling in their legs and feet.
When you are pregnant, there are many things that can hinder your ability to breathe easily. First, your growing baby displaces your organs creating less space in your belly. This can restrict the amount that your diaphragm and lungs can move, and can decrease your ability to take deep breaths. Postural changes can also cause a decrease in space for the lungs to fill impeding breathing. Regular massage therapy can help to improve your breathing by helping to relieve some of the tension caused by postural changes, which can help you to feel like there is more space, and therefore more room to breathe.
Another common complaint during pregnancy is sinus congestion or sinus pain. This is due to an increase in the hormone Progesterone, which can cause swelling of your sinuses. Massage can help to ease sinus pain through the utilization of facial massage and acupressure.
Improved Gastro-intestinal Function
During pregnancy, the increased progesterone also causes your digestive system to slow down. It does this so that your food takes longer to digest, leaving more time for nutrients to be absorbed for the baby. This slow down in digestion can also lead to constipation, heartburn, a cit indigestion, gall bladder disease, bloating, and nausea.
Receiving regular massage during pregnancy can help to decrease these negative symptoms. It help to encourage faster food absorption which can speed up digestion. This can help to ease the negative symptoms listed above.
The skin can take a bit of a beating during pregnancy. Your growing belly makes the skin of your midsection tight, dry, and can cause stretch marks. Having soothing massage with oils that are beneficial for your skin can help to put moisture back into it making it feel less tight and dry. It can also help to decrease the appearance of stretch marks.
Relieves Musculoskeletal Discomfort
The changes in your posture as you are growing your baby can cause a whole host of uncomfortable symptoms which increase the later you get in your pregnancy. Your balance changes completely and you may experience symptoms such as sciatica-like pain, ligament pain, carpal/tarsal tunnel pain, restless legs, and headaches just to name a few. Regular massage is a great way to address all of these discomforts. It can help to release the muscular tension that builds up in the hips causing the sciatica-like pain. A massage therapist trained in pregnancy massage is able to recognize symptoms of ligament pain and has special techniques to help ease the pain. Carpal/tarsal tunnel pain is often caused or exacerbated by edema or swelling. Reduction in the swelling of hands and feet can help to ease symptoms of carpal/tarsal tunnel pain. Restless legs can be caused by overly tight calf muscles. While no deep work should be done on calves during pregnancy, superficial massage can help to relax the muscles enough that you will get some relief from restless legs.
Some women also experience what is known as Pubic Symphysis Dysfunction, where the ligament at the front of the pelvis separates. This causes a great deal of pain any time you do anything one sided such as walk, climb in and out of bed, climb stairs, etc. Massage therapy can help to correct it and has been known to even reverse it in some cases.
New mothers are under a lot of stress. Along with dealing with the regular stresses of their lives, they are also faced with growing a human baby, erratic hormones, and the fears and worry that can come along with becoming a parent. Massage is a great way to calm the mind and relax the body, helping to relieve some of the stress.
Good Preparation for Labor
Receiving regular massage therapy throughout your pregnancy can actually help prepare your body for labor. It can help to increase your flexibility and keep your joints supple and open. It can also help you to be more in tune with your body and what you are feeling by increasing your mind/body connection and creating kinesthetic awareness. Recognizing where you hold tension and learning to relax your muscles can work to your benefit when you are in labor. Massage can also help you get used to relaxing and focusing on your breath, both of which can aid you throughout labor and child birth.
Visit the PREGNANCY MASSAGE treatment menu.
While massage is popular as a mental relaxation tool, it can also go a long way in improving your physical well being. Therapeutic massage helps improve circulation, increases range of motion, reduces headaches, and even lowers the stress hormone cortisol, making it a highly effective way to improve your general wellness or treat certain health conditions, such as:
Arthritis. Because massage improves circulation, it is often used by people who suffer from inflammatory conditions like osteoarthritis. Studies have shown that regular massages can help reduce pain and stiffness, improvehand grip strength, increase range of motion, and improve overall joint function for patients with arthritis.
Carpal Tunnel. If you’re suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome, which is often caused by repetitive activities such as typing, massage may help alleviate your pain. Carpal tunnel occurs when the nerves in your anterior wrist become compressed or inflamed, and massage relieves that compression.
Migraines. Migraines, or tension headaches, are often brought on by stress, so one of the best ways to treat chronic migraines is with a stress-reducing massage. Studies reveal that massages reduce the level of cortisol in the body, and many people report feeling more relaxed and sleeping better after they’ve had a massage.
Sports Injuries. Whether you’re a professional athlete or a casual exerciser, therapeutic massages may help if you suffer from a sports injury. Many injuries occur due to the overuse of certain muscles, and massage can help relax those muscles so you recover more quickly and are less likely to suffer from an injury in the future. Even if you’re recovering from a more serious injury, such as a broken bone, massage may help the rehabilitation process by reducing stiffness and restoring movement.
Lower Back Pain. Lower back pain is often caused by muscle soreness or even a muscle strain, and, as anyone who has ever experienced this type of recurring pain before, can sometimes be hard to manage. Massage treats lower back pain by decreasing the tension and muscles and by improving circulation so the muscles and tissues of the lower back can get the nutrition they need.
Sciatica. This condition, which is caused when the roots of the sciatic nerve are compressed, leads to sharp, shooting leg pain that’s almost unbearable at times. A Professional licensed Massage Therapist may be able to reduce that pain by massaging the muscles of the leg to improve circulation and reduce the compression.
This is just a small sampling of the types of health conditions that a massage can help manage. If you’re suffering from chronic pain or a stress-induced injury, talk to your doctor about whether massage may complement your treatment.
Anice Lombard, Massage Mama. Mama of 2 and Massage Therapist