You have probably experienced finishing an intense workout session and then reap the effects the next day, most of which are not that pleasant. These include muscle soreness, pain, and tension. These are not entirely bad because they are indications that you are in for excellent results and that your body is undergoing repair and recovery.
However, these workout aches can last for days and hamper your ability to work or move about comfortably. Well, good news! Did you know that an after-workout massage can shorten the recovery time?
If you are still wondering, “Does massage after a workout have any benefit?”, read on below!
Why Massage After a Workout is Better than Conventional Painkillers
Many say that the best way to recover from exercise or playing sports is to wait it out. However, relying on time alone may not be the best solution.
In a recent study, 11 healthy young men were tasked to go through a strenuous workout. To find the effect of massage on the muscles after exercise, biopsies of both leg muscles of each participant were taken before exercise, after exercise, and after a 10-minute session of Swedish massage immediately after the workout.
The researchers found out that this short massage had an effect on two muscle cell genes. The first gene activated was responsible for reducing inflammation due to exercise and elicited a response similar to the relief from pain medications.
The second gene stimulated the production of mitochondria in the muscle cells. Mitochondria are the cell’s powerhouse, and an increase in their number means your muscles are becoming more adapted to endurance exercise.
Other studies have also shown that ice baths, pain relievers, and anti-inflammatory medications tend to block the repair and growth of muscle cells. On the contrary, massage not only reduces inflammation naturally but also hastens the recovery process.
The Amazing Benefits of an After-Workout Massage
So, to answer your question, “Does massage after workout have any benefit?”, well, yes! In fact, it has so many benefits that can help improve your overall performance and fitness level that you may not be as sore after exercise.
Below, I listed a rundown of all the amazing benefits of an after-workout massage and a brief explanation for each. Some of these I have already mentioned in the previous section but will explain further here so let’s get started!
1. Pain Relief
The main thing we are targeting after a workout or intense exercise is pain due to muscle fatigue, tightness, and strain. This can be felt in various body parts and in different intensities. More often than not, these pains and aches will worsen over time. Sometimes, they can even progress to serious injury.
The good news is that a body massage post-workout can help increase circulation, which in turn reduces the pain and muscle soreness. More importantly, it can prevent the pain from becoming worse in the next few days.
By relieving pain and releasing tension from constricted and tight muscles, a massage can also improve your flexibility, speed, and endurance.
2. Energy Boost
After a workout, you’ll often find yourself extremely tired and low in energy. But believe it or not, a massage after working out can actually give you more energy. In fact, a massage helps increase the ability of the muscle cells to utilize oxygen and nutrients from the blood.
This means that your muscles will be able to produce more energy at a faster rate.
3. Speedy Recovery
According to research, getting a massage after exercising can make muscle recovery twice as fast as normal rest. This is also attributed to improved blood flow and nutrient distribution.
When your body fluids are continuously circulating, oxygen and nourishment reach your muscles more efficiently. Toxins and waste materials are also eliminated. This helps provide the needed energy for recovering cells.
Another study at Ohio State University in 2015 found that bodywork and massage after an intense physical activity resulted in more vessel formation and reduced scarring in muscle cells.
The warmth provided by a massage also helps the muscles relax quicker so they can proceed to the recovery phase.
4. Reduced Injury
Inflexibility is the most common root cause of athletic injuries, next to poor form, and improper training. Inflexibility is due to the stiffness that forces your joints and muscles to overexert themselves during specific movements, leading to tissue damage.
A post-workout massage can help maintain or restore muscle and joint flexibility by allowing the muscles to relax. So, if ever you decide to get a massage after an intense workout, make sure to point out problem areas that are extra tight or stiff.
The Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) also said that sports massage for injury prevention is particularly effective for injuries that happen during the tearing down phase.
5. Reduce Inflammation
The damage to your tissues causes inflammation. White blood cells which protect from infection or further damage accumulate in problem areas and cause swelling.
However, too much inflammation can also cause muscle stiffness, injury, or even more severe issues. The Men’s Fitness magazine suggests a ten-minute post-workout massage or longer reap its anti-inflammatory benefits.
So, the next time you finish a vigorous workout and think, “ugh, my body will be sore for days!”, try getting a quick massage. Your gym buddies may laugh at you for being such a lightweight, but your body will thank you later! When you’ve already recovered, and they’re still struggling to go down the stairs, let’s see who will be laughing then!
If you don’t have the time and budget to go to a massage parlor, you might want to consider investing in a nice handheld massager that you can use at home! It’s a convenient way to get a massage anytime, anywhere!