When you’re working hard in the gym, it’s important to find ways to speed up your muscle growth and make the most of every minute you spend training—especially if you don’t have much time to spend on getting stronger!
One way to do this is by receiving sports massages from a professional massage therapist or another fitness expert trained in sports massage techniques.
Studies have shown that these massages can have numerous benefits, including increased blood flow and circulation, increased flexibility, and improved range of motion among other things. Read on to learn more about the benefits of sports massages!
Do Sports Massages Help Muscle Growth? Although it might be tempting to conclude that sports massages—along with other forms of manual therapy like acupuncture or chiropractic treatment—are effective primarily because they help relax muscles and ease stress, in fact research shows otherwise.
In one study (1), massage was shown to have a modest but significant impact on muscle strength; a subsequent review (2) of published studies found similar results, demonstrating that massage can be an effective method for enhancing strength and performance gains when practiced by experienced therapists.
Furthermore, as part of an overall training program, studies show that massage helps improve muscle coordination and strengthen weak muscles (3). This is important not only to athletes but also to anyone else whose job requires repetitive movements with their arms or legs.
1) Prevent Injuries
Sports massage is a form of soft tissue manipulation used by medical and athletic professionals. It is most often used to treat athletes and people who are recovering from injuries. The use of sports massage can also improve performance, reduce pain, and help with rehabilitation from injuries.
2) Know When to Stop
A professional sports massage can often be a double-edged sword. It may seem that if a little bit is good, then more must be better. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Over-relaxing after exercise could lead to cramping and even injury in some cases. If you’re feeling particularly sore, it might help to take a hot shower or bath before getting into a sports massage. Just make sure to keep your head on straight and avoid taking things too far!
3) Inflammation Control
If you exercise regularly, you’re going to feel sore after a hard workout. There’s no getting around it. The pain is caused by inflammation and other biological processes that help repair and rebuild your muscles so they can be even stronger next time.
During times of high muscle inflammation, it’s important to limit certain activities, rest, ice your affected muscles, drink lots of water, eat anti-inflammatory foods like omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins and try sports massage—which will help reduce inflammation in your muscles faster than most other methods.
4) Speed Up Recovery
When you go hard at it in a workout, it’s not uncommon to feel sore or tight after. A massage allows your body to quickly bounce back from that tough session and get back to 100 percent. In fact, many trainers suggest getting a sports massage after every single workout session.
It won’t help with muscle growth directly but it will make recovery much faster which means you can hit your next session even harder. That leads us to our next benefit.
5) Mental Health
Did you know that people who participate in regular sports massages report improved mental health? This is especially true when it comes to reducing stress and anxiety, lowering blood pressure, and improving your overall sense of well-being.
With all that said, however, be wary if you want to schedule a massage if you are experiencing severe muscle pain or if any part of your body is in major pain.
Since deep tissue massage (which is what most sports massage therapies are based on) aims to reduce inflammation in muscles by manipulating pressure points and tightness throughout your body, it can make acute pain worse before making it better.
6) Increase Blood Flow
The primary benefit that sports massages have on muscle growth is that they increase blood flow to working muscles. Without a supply of fresh, oxygenated blood, muscles can’t repair themselves effectively and aren’t capable of building new contractile tissue.
If you’re looking to grow your muscles, look no further than an hour-long massage—the average sports massage takes 60 minutes. The massaging action helps improve circulation by encouraging blood vessels to widen so more fluid can flow through them. When these vessels dilate, they allow more fresh blood to enter your tissues.
7) Enjoy Longer, Better Workouts
A study by Florida State University found that post-workout massages helped athletes work out harder. Why? Because massage increases blood flow to muscles, which means that your body can shuttle in more nutrients and oxygenate them faster.
Also, because massage triggers a release of endorphins (the feel good hormones), you’ll feel better when you’re sore from working out. The bonus: endorphins make it easier to push through workouts, so you can get to that muscle growth a lot faster!
8) Keep Moving Forward
One reason why massage can be helpful to muscle growth is that it helps clear lactic acid out of your system. Lactic acid has a pH level that’s close to that of water, so it can dissolve in water and travel through your body until it finds an acidic place to settle (aka your muscles).
When you exercise intensely, as you would during a workout, lactic acid builds up around your muscles. This leads to delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) – those aches and pains you feel 24-48 hours after a hard workout.
If you don’t give your body time to recover and flush out lactic acid buildup by massaging away any soreness, you risk creating more harm than good when working out hard.
9) Boost Confidence
Make no mistake about it, sports massages are a powerful tool for achieving your muscle growth goals. Giving yourself a sports massage doesn’t just feel good; it also helps stimulate blood flow to your muscles and can improve their range of motion.
It can even decrease soreness from heavy workouts. Plus, if you work out hard enough to sweat, there’s a chance that you’re inducing some mild tissue damage that could lead to stiff muscles and delayed recovery—and those kinds of conditions make lifting weights much less enjoyable! On top of all these benefits, sports massages do wonders for morale and motivation.
While science is clear on many benefits from sports massage, muscle growth is not one of them. Sports massage can and does help with muscle recovery and it might even help to reduce soreness, but that’s about it.
It’s easy to see why people get confused though: When you get a sports massage your muscles are certainly stimulated, and when you stimulate a muscle you’re going to be breaking down some tissue. Therein lies the confusion—it’s understandable to think that if breakdown caused growth then stimulating a muscle would cause growth.