Getting a massage post-exercise can greatly improve your recovery and reduce the risk of injury.
Have you ever experienced muscles screaming out in pain a day or two after a workout? Even seasoned athletes can experience delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) or put themselves at risk of injury from overuse.
Whether you’re an elite athlete, a sporting professional or a gym regular, you should consider including sports massage in your post-workout routine for maximum results on and off the field.
In this article, discover the most common post-workout injuries and how a post-workout massage can help you to perform and feel your best in between workouts.
Common post-workout injuries & symptoms
Workout injuries can happen to anyone, including the most elite of athletes. It doesn’t matter your age or fitness level, everyone is at risk of a sporting injury.
Common post-workout injuries include:
- Low back pain
- Muscle tightness and strain
- Knee pain
- Elbow pain and tenderness
- Shin splints
- Wrist sprain
- Shoulder strain
- Hip tightness or pain
- Foot strain or Plantar Fasciitis
After a gruelling gym session or game, you may experience symptoms such as swelling, muscle pain, backaches, or the feeling of muscles ‘catching’ or joints locking up. You may also feel a burning sensation, numbness or shooting pain in the muscle as well as a loss of mobility or flexibility in the arm, hips, wrist, legs or feet.
All these post-workout symptoms signify that you’ve either injured yourself from overuse, by using improper form/technique or have failed to properly warm-up/cool down before and after exercising.
Types of massages to improve recovery
Massage can be used immediately after a workout or following an injury to help reduce further pain and inflammation.
The best types of massage to improve recovery post-workout include a combination of sports massage, remedial, deep tissue and relaxation massage. Including these massage types in your post-workout routine will help to relieve pain and muscle tension, as well as provide therapeutic benefits to the mind.
Sports massage therapy treats and prevents common sports injuries. It combines different forms of massage and muscle manipulation techniques to help treat muscle strains.
The type of sports massage you receive will depend on your injury or individual needs. Some of the most common types of sports massage include soft tissue massage, deep tissue massage and whole body massage.
Deep tissue massage targets the deeper levels of the muscle fascia, helping reduce lactic acid and ease muscle knots and tension.
The massage therapist will apply deep pressure using slow, sustained strokes to target those inner muscles and connective tendons surrounding the joints. This will get rid of adhesions, relieve pain, reduce stress and provide faster muscle recovery.
Remedial massage aims to prevent injury and correct or rehabilitate muscle movement patterns and mobility.
With a combination of deep tissue massage, trigger point therapy, myofascial release and stretching, remedial massage will greatly decrease muscle soreness and facilitate a faster recovery.
Relaxation massage uses slow, rhythmic movements to help calm the mind and body.
A therapeutic massage such as this has great benefits for sportspeople. It can help support recovery by reducing the stress, anxiety and pressure surrounding training and performance.
If you have suffered an injury, a relaxation massage can also help to calm the body and mind and ease any fears or worries regarding your injury or impending time off sport.
Benefits of all
There are numerous benefits to using the above types of post-workout recovery massages. From pain management to improved flexibility and performance, here are some of the ways massage can help you bounce back from a workout injury or intense training session:
Ease muscle spasm & pain
New research from the Ohio State University has found that getting a massage straight after a workout can reduce muscle pain and weakness, as well as reduce the risk of swelling and inflammation.
Muscles that are massaged right away will experience a 20-40% chance of recovery.
Massage is also an effective treatment for DOMS post-event and post-workout. Massage helps to reduce DOMS by relieving tightness and restoring blood flow to the muscles straight after a training session.
Increase circulation and nutrition to damaged tissue
A post-workout recovery massage improves blood circulation which in turn increases oxygen and nutrition delivery to the muscles.
A healthy blood flow helps to loosen and lengthen the muscles and tendons as well as repair damaged tissues. The act of massage straight after exercise may also release any accidental clots or blockages you may have incurred.
Reduces recovery time & risk of injury
Massage after exercise can increase the regeneration of muscle fibres, resulting in a faster recovery time. Massage post-workout can also reduce the risk of future injury by keeping the muscles supple and loose.
In many injuries and also following a workout, the muscles tend to be tight and shortened which can put you more at risk of inflammation or soreness.
Massage will loosen the muscles by releasing tightness and encouraging healthy blood flow. This will lengthen the muscles, returning them to their original architecture – making stretching and moving more fluid and less prone to injury.
Increased range of motion/flexibility
Post-workout recovery massage can be used to maximise sporting performance by increasing your range of mobility and flexibility.
Massage encourages the soft tissues to lengthen and become more elastic, making them extend, move and perform to the best of their ability.
Keeping the body flexible increases performance by allowing the muscles and joints to move at their maximum effort without injury or strain.
All types of massage provide relaxation to both the mind and body. When the muscles are massaged, they move from a tense, tight state to a soft and relaxed state. This has a physiological response, causing the body to enter a state of heavy relaxation and increased feeling of wellbeing.
A relaxing massage post-workout can aid in your recovery by easing muscle tension, reducing stress and alleviating chronic pain. Massage triggers the body to release feel-good hormones that encourage relaxation and gets you feeling your best on your recovery days.
Getting a massage immediately after a workout or sporting event can improve your recovery and performance.
Whether you’re just starting out in the gym or are a professional athlete wanting a quicker and more effective recovery routine, regular sports massage can be invaluable to your overall health and wellbeing.
Want to learn more about sports massage or massage products to help aid in your recovery? Find out more with Discover Massage Australia’s industry-recognised courses today.