Many of you are planning for 2016 and your New Years resolution. This may include eating healthy, stressing less, and exercising more. I talk with a lot of people who create goals. Goals can be your best asset to living a more joyful life. We can’t tackle everything at once but creating small, achievable goals, is the path to success! You may want to choose one aspect of healthy living and focus on that, or you may want to make tiny little steps to overall health. You know best what your lifestyle can support.
With that in mind, I wanted to share some information to help you with your goals.
One question we are often asked: Does massage therapy support your time at the gym? . The short version is, YES!
The long version includes research and some of my own observations in my years as a Licensed Massage Therapist working with a wide array of people and body types.
Efficacy of massage on muscle soreness, perceived recovery, physiological restoration and physical performance in male bodybuilders.
This study measured many different levels but in efforts not to explain the entire study in this post, we will focus on 1 measurement. Basically, bodybuilders in a very specific program, were asked to complete five repetition sets of knee extensor and flexor muscle groups. A control group and a massage group were formed. The massage group received a 30 minute massage after their work out and the control group went about their usual passive recovery.
One measurement the researchers monitored was plasma creatine kinase (CK) levels. CK is responsible for smooth muscle repair and is involved in the creation of blood pressure. The massage group overall experienced a better recovery rate. To read the entire study in more detail, visit pubmed.
“A post-exercise massage session can improve the exercise performance and recovery rate in male bodybuilders after intensive exercise.”
In my experience, as a massage therapist of seven years, I’ve worked closely with people as they try to reach various goals. I have worked with people trying to loose weight, gain weight, build muscle mass, rehab from an injury/surgery. One thing I’ve learned is that massage, overall, helps. I contribute this to a few things. When you’re feeling good, less stressed, and more relaxed, your body will be prepared to repair. Anyone who lift weights, understands that your body must repair in order to build again. I often compare this to your cell phone’s battery. You must recharge it to keep it running. You also must recharge your body to keep it running. Sleep helps to repair but there is another level of repair when you’re consciously and actively relaxing.
When you are consciously and actively relaxing, you are able to connect with your body in a way that sleep does not provide. Sleep is more of a mental activity, you’re dreaming and relaxing. When you’re aware while relaxing, your connection with your body will deepen. We’ve all experienced that on the table, “Wow, I didn’t realize I was tight there.” From that point forward, you will be more aware of whatever body part you experienced that with and you begin to notice in your life where the tightness originates. It could be from a repetitive motion you do daily or from a certain way you answer the phone. I have had people explain to me once they were aware of the neck tension on their right side, every time their boss came in to explain what they were doing wrong, they experienced their neck immediately tighten in that specific area. The connection may not have been made without the active relaxation they were experiencing on the massage table. With this information, freedom is possible. Seeing the origin of the tension, allows you to approach healing from the root of the issue. We could massage this persons neck all day, but once that connection came to light, the appropriate approach can be made.
Connecting with your body is necessary but also one of the bonuses to massage therapy. If you want the nuts and bolts of massage, this of this way: When you lift a weight, you’re asking your muscle to work by shortening the tissue. This is how you build muscle by challenging it and encouraging more and more as time goes on. This is great except remember the cell phone battery? When you complete the tasks’ opposite, you are encouraging growth. I know that seems counter-intuitive in our culture but yogi’s have been practicing this for years! By lengthening the muscle, you encourage repairing blood, lymph, and fluid to nourish every fiber of the muscle. Your muscle will thank you by being able to work more efficiently and reward you by lifting more weight and seeing more results.
Ashiatsu DeepFeet Bar Therapy specifically works so well with bodybuilders and anyone trying to gain muscle mass. The broad surface of our foot allows for pressure to be present without injuring the muscle. Using overhead bars for our stability, we can work with gravity to provide a deep pressure massage while working with both hemispheres of your body. This small detail is very imperative. Your brain wants to be on top of what is happening. Your brain will follow and make note of where the therapist is working and when your brain is unsure where to focus, your brain will relax to a place that can be challenging to achieve on a normal day.
There you have it, massage and weightlifting are the perfect pair. Add in healthy eating and BAM! you’re on the road to awesomeness.
Wishes of Wellness,
Sara Newberry, LMT
Sole Shine Barefoot Massage Therapy