Exercise is, as we all know, vitally important, but in order to get the best from each workout a little outside help is sometimes required. A sports massage is a popular form of physiotherapy that’ll reduce the chance of injury, and help you get more out of each visit to the gym. It’ll make you more flexible, reduce swelling, and improve your circulation – all of which, naturally, will help your body recover after a workout.
With that said, it might not be obvious exactly when you should get a sports massage. Are they best deployed before a workout, in order to boost performance, or after it, to aid your recovery? The right answer will depend on what you’re looking to get out of the massage. So, when is a sports massage used?
Why get a sports massage before a workout?
The object of a pre-workout massage should be to stimulate endorphin production, and relieve any tension before you push your body out of its comfort zone. This sort of massage, done properly, will make you feel amazing – and thus capable of tackling the treadmill (or squat rack, or climbing wall) with ease.
Of course, some sorts of massage can be exhausting, which is the opposite of what you want before a workout! Spend more than thirty minutes on the table and you’re likely to be shattered. The same applies to deep-tissue work, as it might cause temporary soreness that’ll affect performance. As such, you’ll want your pre-workout massage to be low-intensity, so that it loosens muscles, instead of pulverising them.
Why get a sports massage after a workout?
By contrast, a post-workout massage will focus on reducing soreness and inflammation, and restoring full flexibility. Seasoned resistance-trainers have experiences where they over do a workout and can’t walk the next day! The massage should be targeted rather than general, working on the specific muscles you exerted the most. An experienced therapist will know exactly which areas to focus on.
To get the best from a massage of this sort, you’ll need to spend longer lying on the table. An hour or so is usually called for to get to those deep-lying muscles, improve circulation, and eliminate toxicity where it counts.
So how soon after a workout should we get a sports massage? There’s roughly a 48 hour window after your workout for the desired effect.
How often should I get a sports massage?
This depends on the sort of exercise you’re doing. If you’re doing occasional light exercise, on the other hand, then a session once a month is probably sufficient. People who engage in heavy exercise might consider them more frequently.
If you’re recovering from an injury – and particularly a longer-term, debilitating injury, then more frequent massages might be able to facilitate recovery. If you’re physically unable to exercise, then a sports massage might provide a way of stimulating blood flow and incrementally increasing your range of movement. Regular massages are just as effective as any dietary supplement!
What about big events?
If competition in a big endurance event is in the future, a sports massage might give you a winning edge.
If you’re reading this, you might be wondering when to get a sports massage before a marathon. The answer will depend on how quickly your body is able to recover from a massage. It’s a little bit different for everyone.
Only get a massage before a big race if you already get them on a regular basis. This way you should know how long it takes your body to recover, and you can plan accordingly.
Are sports massages for me?
At the cutting edge of human performance, an extra day’s training can make all the difference – but what about those of us whose livelihoods don’t depend on being in tip-top condition?
If you’re doing any form of exercise, then you’ll benefit from an occasional sports massage. Whether it’s the occasional walk in the park, or a once-weekly session at the gym, it helps you get the best from the experience. The same applies to people who spend every day doing physically demanding labour. If you find that your muscles are sore and stiff at the end of each working week, consider this. They’ll be able to devise a massage program tailored to your body, to support your fitness goals and make you feel fantastic, too.