Getting the right balance when working out and training can be a tough one. Depending on your sport or discipline the requirements and objectives for optimum performance can vary. I often hear, ‘’but massage and bodywork will make my muscles soft’’!? This is one statement I can’t get my head around and often makes me smile!
We know through research that massage therapy when used regularly can be a great tool in preventing injuries and can speed up the recovery process. So how can it improve flexibility and why do we need to have a healthy balance for everyday life and our sports.
Regular massage and bodywork once tailored to the client’s needs can have some fantastic results. A good massage & bodywork session will greatly improve lymphatic drainage; speed up the removal of toxins released from the muscles, lift and stretch soft tissue, which will improve overall circulation.
Using different and skilled techniques the therapist can lift and stretch soft tissues allowing more blood flow to the muscles encouraging a more efficient workout.
There are many techniques that can be used during a session to safely stretch muscles to help improve flexibility. However, it’s important to remember than we can overdo it causing more harm than good. Flexibility can only be increased and improved by over stretching slightly.Here are some examples of techniques that can be used during a session to improve flexibility.
Myofascial Release (MFR)
This is more a sports massage technique that focuses on improving the flexibility of the connective tissue in the area. It works mainly on the fascia that separates the muscle fibres from each other and the fascial layer that separates the adipose tissue of the skin.
Soft Tissue Release (STR)
This technique improves the flexibility in a specific area of the muscle or tendon. It’s a great way to pinpoint an area of stiffness in an otherwise flexible muscle when a normal stretch may not affect the tense area.
Muscle Energy Technique (PNF Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation)
This technique focuses on using a passive static technique to improve the flexibility of the muscle. It’s a technique that is specifically designed to avoid the stretch reflex by incorporating an isometric (the muscle is contracting but no movement is happening) contraction into the stretch.
Sports Massage Cupping
Sport Massage Cupping is a great way to lift and stretch the muscles and separate the fascia and muscles from each other. Sports Massage cupping doesn't usually leave a mark as the cups are never left for more than 2-3 minutes at any given time and are constantly being moved over the muscles. As a result, the blood flow is greater to the area helping to speed up the recovery process.
There is often a misconception that you cannot be strong and flexible, this isn’t the case! The healthier your muscles are the more efficiently they will cope when loaded. Our muscles don’t move in isolation and this is why we need to build strength and flexibility through range of motion. So, overall Massage Therapy and Bodywork is a very beneficial treatment for maintaining and improving flexibility and motion. By working on muscles, connective tissue, tendons, ligaments, and joints, regular massage and bodywork can improve flexibility keeping joints more fluid and making them less injury prone.
I really enjoy my work and love helping clients feel better. I work from my clinic in Rathfarnham on Mondays and Fridays by appointment and I am mobile the rest of the week for my client’s convenience.
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