Benefits of Massage for Strength TrainingBeth Rush
If you are seriously into strength training, you want to do everything you can to improve your performance and make gains. You might also suffer from occasional soreness as a dubious thank you for your efforts. Have you considered the benefits of massage?
This healing modality is often the province of pricey spas in the Western world. However, it is an ancient technique that enjoys popular use in many medical systems, including Ayurveda. It need not cost a fortune — you can learn the strokes and practice on yourself or a partner.
Why should you consider adding regular rubdowns to your workout repertoire? Here are the benefits of massage for strength training.
The Benefits of Massage for Strength Training
One of the many benefits of massage for strength training is that it aids your recovery. Strength training requires you to work a muscle group to the point of fatigue through repetition. You achieve exhaustion by choosing heavy enough weights or increasing your rep count — you can judge which weight to choose by determining what tires you after 8 to 12 reps.
What happens when a muscle becomes fatigued? Symptoms like muscle weakness, soreness, localized pain and shortness of breath occur because of two mechanisms:
- Peripheral fatigue: Caused by changes at the nerve-muscular junction, including the depletion of some substances and accumulation of others.
- Central fatigue: Originates in the central nervous system and decreases the number of motor impulses sent to the muscle.
When you experience fatigue, you rest. Those who have been into strength training for a while know that using rest days is crucial. Overtraining past the point of exhaustion won’t result in muscle growth and may injure you.
However, massage may make your rest days more valuable. A recent metastudy revealed that post-workout sports massage might improve overall flexibility and delayed-onset muscle soreness, although it didn’t improve other measures.
DOMS is what makes you limp after leg day. Studies show that massage increases blood flow to the affected area, delivering oxygen and nutrients, which may speed your recovery. Anyone who has struggled with walking up stairs after several sets of squats understands the value of decreasing this symptom on your motivation to get back in the gym.
The Types of Massage (and Best Types of Massage for Weightlifters)
Massage comes in more varieties than there is space to list in this article. However, here are some of the best types of massage for weightlifters and the unique qualities of each technique.
1. Swedish Massage
Swedish massage uses multiple motions, combining long kneading strokes with rhythmic tapping and joining movements. Your therapist typically applies light to medium pressure, depending on your feedback.
2. Sports Massage
Sports massage entails consultation with your therapist about your sport. They’ll design a specific treatment regimen to concentrate on those muscles most used in your activity.
3. Deep Tissue Massage
Deep tissue massage uses many of the same strokes as Swedish but with far more pressure. It can be painful but works deep into your fascia and connective tissues.
4. Shiatsu Massage
Shiatsu massage uses knuckles, thumbs or other body parts like elbows to manipulate. Movies often portray this type of massage with therapists walking on their patient’s backs, but this doesn’t always happen in reality.
5. Trigger Point Massage
Trigger point massage addresses pressure points to ease pain. Learning a few of these techniques can help you navigate life. For example, knowing the pressure points for head pain can help if you’re prone to 3 p.m. tension agony.
6. Thai Massage
Thai massage is one of the best types of massage for weightlifters as it combines compression, gentle stretching and acupressure. Acupressure uses the same energy meridians as acupuncture but without needles.
7. Lymphatic Massage
If you’re frustrated by swelling in your extremities, lymphatic massage may be your answer. This form moves lymph stuck in your tissues to your nodes, where it can drain properly. This type of massage benefits strength training if you have a chronic illness like fibromyalgia or rheumatoid arthritis by relieving undue pressure.
8. Myofascial Release
This gentle massage form feels great on rest days, making it one of the best types for weightlifters. It uses constant strokes with low pressure to ease the sticky tissues that hold everything together.
Massage Techniques You Can Use on Yourself (or a Loved One)
If you have the means, a professional massage is a treat. These individuals undergo vigorous anatomy training to earn their licensure and have the knowledge necessary to use the best techniques for your unique needs.
However, there’s no need to give up the benefits of massage if you can barely cover the basics on your paycheck and don’t have money for the extras. For the same price as a single professional treatment, you can find handheld devices that make self-massage safe and ergonomic.
You can also use devices like foam rollers and tennis balls for self-massage. For example, rolling a tennis ball under your feet while you sit at your workstation is fabulous for plantar fasciitis. Tie several in a long hose and use it as a makeshift roller for your back.
You’re even luckier if you have a partner. Swapping massages with the one you love can help you strengthen your bond. Even solo peeps can exchange healing rubdowns with their training buddy.
Better yet, learn a few techniques. Although massage therapy training can cost several thousand dollars, you don’t have to earn your license. You can find free YouTube channels to help you master the strokes and let intuition guide you from there.
Benefits of Massage for Strength Training
If you love lifting weights, you want to give yourself any edge you can to improve your gym performance. Now that you know the benefits of massage for strength training, you can add regular rubdowns to your repertoire.
Doing so could help you improve your flexibility and reduce post-workout soreness. Improving your recovery makes you more enthusiastic about going to the gym, which fuels your progress.