Have you been looking for ways to improve your mobility and flexibility, but aren’t sure how to choose between stretching vs. massage? Both of these are well-loved ways to support joint and muscle health. But if you want to ease tension, loosen up, and move your body more freely, which one is right for you?
In this post, we’ll cover the benefits of stretching vs. massage, as well as how to develop the best routine for your own mobility.
Benefits of Stretching for Mobility
The benefits of stretching are well-known, which is why so many health experts recommend adding it into your routine at least a few times per week.
Here are some of the ways that stretching could boost your mobility:
Warms Up and Temporarily Lengthens Muscles
Muscle stiffness can happen at any time, but it’s especially common after a grueling workout or recent injury. And as you get older, you might start to feel tight or stiff more frequently.
Fortunately, stretching can help prevent and break up stiffness in overused, tired muscles. That’s because it temporarily lengthens the muscle fibers, which can ease tension, warm the muscles up before movement, and support mobility overall.
Increases Your Joints’ Range of Motion
Research has shown that stretching improves range of motion in the joints. In addition, stretching can also enhance your stretch tolerance, which can increase the extent to which you can move your body without feeling any discomfort.
Are There Any Cons of Stretching?
While stretching can offer some remarkable benefits, it can also come with some disadvantages in certain situations. For example:
- Overstretching can actually cause tiny injuries to the muscles, so you’ll want to make sure you don’t go overboard. Remember to listen to your body, stretch slowly, and stop if you feel too much tension.
- Stretching means putting energy in and being engaged. To reap the full benefits of stretching every day, you’ll need to find ways to stay motivated and committed to your routine.
Benefits of Massage Therapy for Mobility
On the flip side of stretching is massage, which is a passive way to relax the muscles through soothing touch, vibration, or oscillation.
Here are the benefits of massage for mobility and flexibility.
Supports Healthy Circulation
Massage can boost circulation and bring a healthy dose of nutrient and oxygen-rich blood to targeted areas. In turn, this can support your muscle health and overall mobility.
Releases Tension and Trigger Points
Trigger points (aka knots) can sometimes make it difficult to stay nimble and flexible. That’s because the knots can pull on your muscles and cause pain and discomfort as you move around throughout the day.
The good news is that massage — especially trigger point massage — can work out these tight spots and help you move freely and comfortably again.
Are There Any Cons of Massage Therapy?
Massage therapy is popular and beneficial, but it’s not always a good fit for every person who wants to improve mobility. Some potential disadvantages of massage include:
- The cost. If you want to visit a masseuse each week (or even each month), the price can add up. Fortunately, there are plenty of cost-effective ways to try massage at home, such as foam rolling, asking a partner, or trying a home massager.
- In some cases, massage can worsen specific injuries or conditions. These include but aren’t limited to infections, blood clots, kidney conditions, varicose veins, etc. When in doubt, be sure to check with your doctor.
Stretching Vs. Massage: Weighing the Pros and Cons
If you want to support healthy blood flow, relieve stress, and break up muscle tension, you can benefit greatly from massage therapy. And if you want to bring some additional physical activity into your life while increasing your range of motion, stretching is the way to go.
So, which one is best for mobility? Most experts would recommend stretching over massage if your main goal is mobility or flexibility — but it’s not always easy to complete a stretch routine every day. With that in mind, a mix of stretching and massage therapy is often the most beneficial.
Here are some tips for getting started with both:
Creating a Stretching Routine
If you want to implement a stretching routine but aren’t sure how, here are some tips to get you started:
- Your stretching routine doesn’t have to be overly complex or advanced. You can still reap enormous benefits when you opt for basic stretches such as the toe touch, shoulder stretch, and calf stretch.
- Stretching shouldn’t hurt. Of course, it should challenge your muscles — but if you find yourself wincing in pain from your routine, don’t be afraid to dial things back.
- Consistency is key. Commit to a regular stretching regimen when you’ve got a couple of extra minutes each day. This could be before work, as a warm-up before a workout, or right before you head to bed each night.
Implementing Regular Massage
Here are some tips for getting started with regular massage at home:
- Spend some time learning self-massage techniques. These techniques can make it easy to get a massage when you don’t have any equipment on hand.
- Try a foam roller or massage ball. You can use tools like these to work more deeply into specific muscle groups.
- Invest in a therapeutic massage tool. A physician-trusted massager can make a high-quality massage feel more effortless and accessible.
Massage Vs. Stretching: What’s the Verdict?
Stretching is a powerful way to improve mobility and get your body moving. But you’ll need to stick to your routine to get the full benefits — even on the days when you don’t feel the most motivated.
With that being said, exercise and regular movement are key to feeling your best. So, if you could use a boost in that area, a stretch routine is a great place to start. On the other hand, massage is a more passive way to promote circulation, relax, and support muscle and joint health.
All in all, choosing between massage or stretching comes down to your unique body, what you enjoy, and what’s most feasible for your daily life. And ultimately, you might find that a blend of both is what helps you feel your best.
For therapeutic massage in the comfort of your own home, view MedMassager’s wide range of restorative tools today.