Why should you get a Massage?

When we think about massages, generally, Enya, flutes, candles, smelly oils and luxury come to mind. “I’ll pamper myself someday”, “maybe for my birthday, or when I meet this deadline” We tend to say. Meanwhile, your back feels so tight; you have a headache almost every day; you’re wearing your shoulders up to your ears and that low back is jacked up! No matter, just pop that NSAID and trudge along.

Stop it! I’m here to tell you the TRUTH about massages!

Massage is not just a luxury item. It’s a necessity for overall health in your life!

Massage targets soft tissues (Muscles) in our body.  Muscles move us, pump our blood, protect our organs and support our skeleton. When our muscles are too tight from injury, stress, dehydration or atrophy (wasting away of the muscles due to non-use) problems begin to occur.  We begin to experience inflexibility, pain, susceptibility to injury, increased risk of getting sick, and depression. There are scientific facts of why this occurs, having to do with output of chemicals from the brain and how they interact with organs and systems in the body (Nerd Alert!, it will be a subject for another article).  Let’s focus on the benefits of massage.

Deep Breath, Ahhhhh….Zen.

Increased flexibility. Massage techniques stretch, compress and knead the connective tissues (Fascia) and muscle fibers that lie beneath the skin and around the bones. The massage movements will break up little adhesions that develop from daily activity (or inactivity) and allow the fibers to slide and glide with ease. This increases Range of Motion for the limbs/joints/tendons. The stretching from massage techniques are different from static stretching (yoga poses, stretching after a workout) as they move the muscles from a passive perspective. Allowing a deeper movement from an outside source. Both types of stretching are important!

Increased circulation. As an example, we have all heard the term Trigger Point. Most of us have experienced that nemesis as well! However, let’s look at that adversary from a new light. Mr. Trigger Point is just looking out for the rest of the muscle system that he’s inflicting pain upon. Consider his actions as a Red Flag that something is not functioning properly and there is not enough circulation present for recovery. Massage techniques will communicate to the trigger point to relax and increase circulation to that area. The irritated muscles need blood flow that will bring nutrients, repair cells, and cushioning to help restore the muscle fibers. Massage will stimulate the lymphatic system as well, promoting the immune system to monitor the body for any unwelcome pathogens or toxins and remove them through urine and sweat. Stretching alone will not change a muscle that is neurologically facilitated (in spasm) and exercise of any type will not benefit a muscle that is neurologically inhibited (weak) more than temporarily[1].

Decrease in stress hormones. Studies have revealed that massage after working out can lower cortisol levels in an individual. This can support the recovery from the transient immunosuppression state, which means to help the body to fight off infections, disease and sickness. Massage can decrease delayed onset muscle soreness caused by the storage of lactic acid (muscle waste) which causes muscles to feel stiff and fatigued. [2]

Sleep. When you are snoozing, chasing those fantastical dream adventures your body is still hard at work, recovering, rebuilding and renewing for the next day. If you go to bed in a high-tension state you will have difficulty getting to sleep and may often wake during the night or wake too early. All of this compromises recovery. Massage will reduce some of that tension and promote deeper and longer sleep.[3]

Pain reduction and improvement of performance. This statement is a blanket statement that culminates with all of the above information and facts. When you’re moving better, sleeping better, stressing less and increasing your recovery you will perform better in the gym with little to no more pain.  Life becomes an adventure full of blessings, opportunities and happiness. You are given only one body in this life. Take care of it so that you can take care of the people and duties that are presented to you. Massage is not a luxury.

Ruth Celis, LMT. The Muscle Whisperer, has been practicing bodywork and massage since 2005. Her foundation of education includes knowledge of anatomy and physiology, movement, growth and health of the muscles and soft tissue through exercise and nutrition.

[1] Steve Gangemi Breakingmuscle.com How to Use Manual Therapy to Restore Essential Gait Mechanics

[2] https://www.amtamassage.org/approved_position_statements/Massage-Therapy-for-Those-Who-Exercise.html

[3] http://breakingmuscle.com/mobility-recovery/the-5-benefits-of-massage-therapy-for-the-serious-weightlifter