As an athlete who trains hard, you may be curious about strategies to help your body perform at its best. You probably know that hydration, nutrition, and sleep are essential for good performance. But what about massage therapy?
Can it help with injury and recovery? In what ways does it enhance your health, and how can you reap its benefits?
If you’ve been wondering how massage can support your active lifestyle, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to learn about five science-backed benefits of massage therapy for athletes.
1. Promotes Circulation
Among all of the benefits of massage, its ability to promote healthy circulation is one of the most valuable. Massage stimulates blood flow to targeted areas, which can help bring nutrients and oxygen to muscle tissue.
Healthy blood flow offers benefits for anyone, whether or not you lead a physically active lifestyle. But for athletes, better circulation can make a big difference in reducing muscle fatigue and improving energy levels.
2. Boosts Flexibility
Improved flexibility is one of the most helpful benefits of massage therapy for athletes. Regular massage helps your muscles stay tension-free, which in turn supports your body’s range of motion.
Better flexibility from massage therapy can also:
- Promote better posture
- Help you minimize the risk of injury
- Move more efficiently
- Prevent discomfort during exercise
3. Relieves Stress and Enhances Mental Well-being
Massage can have a positive impact on any person’s mental wellness. And for athletes, these psychological benefits can translate into better concentration, performance, and overall well-being.
So, how exactly does this work? Beyond anecdotal reports of people simply feeling better after massage therapy, research also suggests that it can decrease cortisol, the chief stress hormone in the body.
At the same time, it can boost dopamine and serotonin, two well-known brain chemicals related to happiness.
4. Reduces Soreness During Recovery
After a heavy lifting or intense training session, you should expect at least some soreness in the following days. But if you’re looking to reduce your muscle pain during recovery, even a few minutes of massage might help.
One 2014 study found that vibration therapy and massage can significantly ease delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) in the days after exercise. And that’s not all it can do for recovery. A small 2012 study found that it may even reduce inflammation and improve mitochondria levels (aka your cells’ energy producers) after training.
With these benefits in mind, it’s important to note that research does not show that massage reduces lactic acid build-up in muscles. However, its soothing and restorative effects can still help recovery go more smoothly.
5. Supports Better Sleep
We know that massage increases relaxation, but what does that mean for someone who trains hard? Well, beyond less muscle tension, it could also mean better quality sleep. And for athletes, this means better recovery and performance.
As you may know, sleep is a crucial factor in exercise recovery, and poor-quality sleep can also affect your reaction time and mood. So, if you want to perform your best, self-massaging for better sleep is worth a try.
Even a few minutes of massage before bed could help you get a deeper, more restorative rest each night.
How to Get the Benefits of Massage Therapy for Athletes at Home
You don’t necessarily need to give yourself a full-on sports massage to promote your well-being at home. You can still see results by using self-massage techniques or a device designed for recovery and relaxation.
The best massage devices for athletes include:
- Percussion massage guns: For targeting specific areas, whether you want to warm up or prevent soreness
- Foam rollers: Best to relieve tension in quads, hamstrings, calves, and glutes
- Massage balls: Eliminate tightness in small, targeted areas
Are Massage Guns Effective?
Massage guns can be an excellent tool for athletes, depending on the benefits you’re seeking.
For example, if you want to warm up your muscles before physical activity, using a massage gun for six to ten minutes can help. You can also use a tool like this as a part of your cool-down routine to decrease soreness after training.
What Is the Best Massage Gun for Athletes?
Before making a purchase, be on the lookout for a quiet, lightweight device with various intensity modes and good battery life.
One such device is the Accuvibe Mini by MedMassager. This massager uses the latest therapeutic technology to promote relaxation and ease tension in muscles. Beyond that, it comes with three interchangeable massage heads to help with the various needs of an athletic lifestyle.
The Bottom Line on Massage’s Benefits for Athletes
As an athlete, including massage in your daily routine can mean better relaxation, sleep, and circulation throughout your body. Research also shows that it can help reduce soreness and inflammation after physical activity.
All in all, short massage sessions before or after exercise can offer incredible health benefits. And don’t worry — you won’t have to schedule a weekly appointment to get results.
Self-massage and high-quality devices can help you reap the benefits of massage therapy at home, without ever having to visit a masseuse.
Are you interested in adding massage to your athletic routine? Click here to check out MedMassager’s full range of recovery massagers today.