When you’re an athlete, your body is your job. From feeding your body with the proper fuel to maintaining peak performance, to putting in the hours of training, it’s up to you to make sure that your body is in its best condition. A part of this regimen is learning how to help your body recover from the regular stress of training and improvement. Many athletes tout the benefits of regular massage for helping their muscles recover from training and perform at their optimal levels. What are the ways that massage is beneficial for athletes?
1. Relieve muscle stiffness and soreness.
Consistent athletic training results in muscles that are stiff and sore from overuse, growth, and lactic acid build-up. Massage therapy provides relief by assisting in the removal of lactic acid and other toxin build-ups, and this way the athlete can focus on training the next day.
2. Promote relaxation and sleep quality.
Rest is equally as important as work when it comes to athletic training. However, stiff muscles or muscle pain can prevent a good night’s sleep. Massage also triggers the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that combats anxiety and helps you feel calm.
3. Improve circulation and blood flow.
Therapeutic massage works wonders for increasing blood flow, and this is vital to athletic performance. Blood carries oxygen to all the organs in the body, and so improved circulation is directly related to performance.
4. Reduce the likelihood of sports-related injuries.
For athletes, injuries can be inconvenient at best and career-altering at worst. Because of this, it’s wise to take all measures towards preventing injuries. Massage increases flexibility and keeps muscles limber, which helps to prevent unnecessary strain and imbalances.
5. Aids in lymphatic drainage.
Lymphatic drainage is an important process in the body that gets rid of toxins. Massage acts as a mechanical form of drainage, as the massage therapist is able to manually kick the system into gear.
6. Reduces harmful cortisol levels.
Finally, massage provides relaxation benefits and lowers cortisol levels in the brain. Cortisol is the stress hormone and can be extremely harmful to both the brain and the body in excess. Athletic training and performance can be stressful, and massage can reduce harmful levels of cortisol to optimize the brain’s hormones for optimal wellness.