Because sports massage can be so helpful to athletes, it can sometimes be tempting to want to immediately follow one session with another, especially if you’re particularly sore or in need of deep tissue work.
However, resting after your massage has been completed and letting your body rest is also very important. Here are some reasons why it’s important to rest after your sports massage as well as tips on how long you should wait before having another sports massage treatment.
How long should you rest after getting sports massage? That all depends on what you’re looking to accomplish with your sessions. Typically, if you are just looking for a relaxing or stress-relieving massage, it’s probably fine to resume normal activities immediately following your appointment.
However, if you’re receiving a deep tissue sports massage treatment that includes lactic acid removal and myofascial release, rest periods should be longer.
1) Blood flow returns to normal more quickly
The more serious and painful your injury, the more inflammation you will experience. Inflammation is your body’s way of saying, Hey! Something ain’t right here! We need to put everything we got into getting rid of whatever is causing us pain.
The problem with that is that if you overdo it, your body can become overheated and send blood rushing away from your extremities (especially hands and feet). This causes you to lose circulation, which can cause long-term nerve damage or weakness.
Most massage therapists recommend resting for up to an hour after treatment so that blood flow has time to return back to normal without pooling around your hands and feet.
2) Lactic acid dissipates
This is important for preventing injuries and pain. When performing any kind of activity, your body creates lactic acid as it works.
If you don’t allow your body to rest, then it continues to build up. This can cause muscle fatigue, cramping and injuries. Allowing time to rest allows lactic acid levels to go back down and decreases your risk for pain or injury.
3) Pain diminishes
When you first receive a sports massage, it can be painful. That is because your muscles are tense and knotted, which causes pain and discomfort. As the massage continues and your body begins to relax, those knots start to dissolve.
The pain that was present when you first arrived will begin to fade away. You may still feel some soreness or fatigue after your treatment but, overall, any pain you had before will be less intense and you will feel more relaxed than before.
4) Inflammation decreases
A sports massage can help reduce inflammation in your muscles. It’s not uncommon for our bodies to experience pain and swelling after physical activity. This is because blood vessels expand, pushing aside muscle fibers, which causes tiny tears in them that lead to inflammation.
When you receive a sports massage, not only do you get de-stressed (yes, it’s true), but your muscles relax and begin to repair themselves. This decrease in inflammation occurs because of how sports massages ease pressure off sore spots while also stimulating blood flow throughout the body.
At first glance, it may seem like there aren’t many benefits from getting rest afterward; however, healing after an intense massage is crucial if you want all those benefits from receiving one!
5) Mobility increases
Get up and stretch or walk around after your massage. You’ll notice an increase in flexibility, particularly in joints such as your ankles, knees, hips and shoulders.
It might be tempting to jump back into your busy schedule immediately after a sports massage treatment, but try to avoid doing so for at least 30 minutes to an hour. Give yourself time to rest and allow your body’s muscles to relax before beginning your next activity.
Walk away from strenuous workouts for at least 24 hours before returning for another sports massage session; it gives you enough time for inflammation or swelling brought on by training sessions and injuries (if applicable) to subside.
6) Regeneration takes place more quickly
During your rest period after sports massage, your body will begin to heal itself more quickly. A study by researchers at Thomas Jefferson University found that blood flow and oxygen levels in muscles increase significantly after intense exercise—and that these levels remain elevated for 24 hours when muscles are given an appropriate amount of rest afterward.
The study also found that inflammation is reduced after muscle damage, resulting in less pain and faster recovery. In other words, if you want to get better faster, it’s important to make sure you’re properly resting between your sessions.
The effects of massage on sports performance are cumulative, so it’s important to work with your therapist to establish regular maintenance programs for your body.
Maintenance should consist of shorter, more frequent treatments (usually weekly or bi-weekly) that last approximately 30–45 minutes each. The frequency and length aren’t just limited to sports performance—think about how many times you’ve been advised to stretch every day or ice an injury at first onset.
The body benefits greatly from consistent and regular care over time so make sure you choose someone who believes in developing long-term relationships with their clients!