Athletes and coaches agree - it makes you feel good
Jon Gestl explains how massage can aid training, performance and recovery from injury
Ask a coach or athlete their reason for getting a massage, and you are likely to hear "because it feels good." We all know that a massage can relieve stress, help to make sore muscles feel better and even reduce anxiety, but can it help an athlete achieve their fitness goals?
In all types of massage, the therapist has specific aims in mind, and in sport, we focus on the individual needs of the athlete. With the ever-growing number of people taking part in sport, combined with the increasing competitiveness and intensity of physical exercise, the demand for sports massage is also increasing and becoming more and more recognised as a skill that may aid recovery and enhance performance.
Research shows that the massage you get to relieve stress can also have a positive effect on your muscle-building capabilities and fitness level.
Sports massage does have some aims in common with other forms of massage, and it is especially important to have a thorough understanding of anatomy and physiology, in particular, the muscular and skeletal systems. By understanding these systems and the effects of exercise, we may also appreciate how massage may benefit the sports person and becomes an integral part of the athlete's training programme.
While a massage will not build muscle directly, it helps to facilitate the body's rebuilding phase following a workout and influences muscular growth. Getting a massage is just as important as regular workouts and supportive nutrition for a comprehensive fitness program. Great news for those of us who thought building a great body was all hard work!
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About the Author
Jon Gestl is a personal fitness trainer and instructor in Chicago specializing in in-home and in-office fitness training. He is a United States National Aerobic Champion silver and bronze medallist.