By: Val Webb, LMT and guest blog contributor
I have been performing sports, deep-tissue, and neuromuscular massage modalities for 14 years. I firmly believe in the healing power of massage as it offers a hands-on healthy approach to drug-free and non-invasive therapy, based on the body's natural ability to heal. Most everyone knows intuitively that massage reduces stress and tension and promotes relaxation. Beyond that as a therapist, I educate my clients that consistent massage can also ease chronic pain and rehabilitate the body from musculoskeletal injuries. There are many proven physiological benefits from receiving any type of massage—not just sports-specific. Here are some of the more prominent benefits:
- Increase circulation, which allows the body to pump more oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs
- Release endorphins, the body's natural painkiller
- Stimulate the lymph system, the body's natural defense, against toxic invaders
- Relax and soften overused and repetitive-motion injured muscles
- Reduce muscle spasms and cramping
- Release of myofascial hypertonicity and decrease of trigger (tender) points
- Increase joint flexibility
- Improve range of motion
- Reduce adhesions and enhance collagen remodeling during healing
Many massage clients also report they have experienced non-traditional benefits from receiving pre-, during, and post-event sports massage. For example, many consistently say they sleep better and wake feeling more rested. I’ve also observed during my career as a busy therapist that sports massage reduces recovery time after strenuous workouts and helps eliminate the subsequent risk of muscle strain or injury. While attending the Boulder Center of Massage Therapy, I learned from my sports massage instructors that the school did post-event research at the Bolder Boulder http://www.bolderboulder.com/. This study demonstrated that running participants’ muscles recovered up to five times faster post-event with massage—compared to those participants who didn’t receive post-event massage.
During my internship at the Colorado Crush (AFL Football League) practice facility, I discovered that using lymph drainage massage protocols significantly reduced swelling and therefore reduced pain for the players. Research summarized by the American College of Healthcare and Technology showed that massage therapy has an effect on reducing inflammation of skeletal muscle acutely damaged through exercise. The study conducted in 2012 through the Buck Institute for Research on Aging and McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, indicates evidence for the benefits of massage therapy for those with musculoskeletal injuries and potentially for those with inflammatory disease, according to the lead author of the research. The study found evidence at the cellular level that massage therapy may affect inflammation in a way similar to anti-inflammatory medications.
These significant findings support the use of sports massage therapy as a drug-free way to relieve pain and inflammation after exercise. Imagine what regular sports massage would do to help you “stay on your game” and exponentially improve your sport?
About the Guest Contributor Val Webb
As a member of the American Massage Therapy Association’s (AMTA’s) Colorado (www.amtacolorado.org) and the National Chapter (www.amtamassage.org), I am the medical Massage Therapist for Sisu Therapies and specialize in medical, ortho/rehab, sports, deep-tissue and neuromuscular therapeutic massage. I graduated with honors from the former Boulder College of Massage Therapy (BCMT) in June 2006 and have been a practicing therapist for over 14 years. I was also a member of the AMTA Colorado Event Sports Massage Team (ESMT) for three years.