Rehabilitative massage is not just for injured athletes. The benefits are numerous and are physical, psychological, and physiological. Rehabilitative massage helps prevent injuries, boost performance, maintain mobility, restore injured muscles, and increase the life of your sporting career.
A growing body of evidence shows that rehabilitative massage does actually have a number of positive effects on athletes. New research has people taking massage more seriously, and not only for professional athletes. The benefits are for anyone participating in regular exercise.
Massage helps improve performance, prevent injury, reduce pain, shorten recovery time, and encourage focus, according to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA). Massage consists of two basic types: a reflex response that stimulates nerves and a mechanical response due to movement and pressure.
Physiological Effects of Rehabilitative Massage
One surprising benefit of massage is its effects on the cardiovascular system due to its ability to dilate blood vessels, helping them function better in the promotion of circulation. Manually encouraging blood flow back into the heart helps deliver nutrients and fresh oxygen into tissues, promoting toxin and waste product removal. Your heart rate is also lowered during massage because of your relaxed mental state.
More people are aware of the muscular system benefits of rehabilitative massage. One benefit is related to the cardiovascular benefits of massage. Improved blood circulation result in muscle relaxation that minimizes soreness and speeds recovery. Those relaxed muscles can then have a greater range of motion, leading to increased athletic performance.
Recent research at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging found that rehabilitative massage not only reduces inflammation, but it encourages the body to produce more mitochondria — the energy production centers of every muscle cell. This means that muscle tissue will experience less inflammation and recovery more quickly from exercise. The additional mitochondria means you have more energy available to exercise and play sports.
Rehabilitative massage has benefits outside of purely physical ones. The athleticism needed to compete in sports relies upon more than just physical strength. Focus and tactical maneuvering also have an impact upon performance. Massage reduces stress, anxiety, and tension.
Massage also promotes the release of bodily substances that have a positive psychological effect, like endorphins and dopamine. Endorphins are the body’s own pain killers, which promote a state of relaxation. Massage has also been found to lower cortisol levels that are associated with high stress.
Pumping — Massage movements create an effect similar to a vacuum. The manual movements create a vacuum behind them, encouraging the inflow of blood and lymph. Tightness squeezes blood from injured muscle tissue like a sponge. Massage helps correct this condition, allowing for the removal of toxins and the inflow of healing nutrients.
Breaking down scar tissue — Scar tissue can form due to prior injuries or trauma, leading to poor athletic performance due to tissue that has become inflexible and limited in motion and range. Massage can correct this condition and reduce your chances of experiencing an injury.