If you’ve been following CXP for a while now, you’ll know that I put up posts about Fitness, Nutrition, Supplements (Edge), and Rest & Recovery (Zen). While I’ve covered various things that YOU can do by yourself to help aid your body’s recovery, the fact is, there are things that other people can do for you too.
Today, I’m taking a look at: Massage!
A lot of people look at this as being something of a luxury – a fanciful vice of the rich and wealthy… But really, it could be one of your best investments for your health if you train hard and regularly. See, with all that muscle breakdown occurring, we’re doing a lot of [technical] damage to our bodies when we train – especially if you’re lifting HEAVY (i.e. Strength Training). Getting your Nutrition and Supplementation in check are going to be crucial; and as you know – Rest & Recovery are the final pieces of the puzzle.
The simple fact is this: if you’re going to train like an athlete, then you need to fuel yourself like one, and *recover* like one also!
‘… they are preventing injury, and keeping the body in an optimum state…’
Yes, there is the first image of Massage that comes to most of our minds, which is most likely that of being at some plush Spa Resort wrapped in an ultra-soft Egyptian cotton towel, with some cover-model-esque Masseuse/Masseur pouring sandalwood-infused oil all down you… Well, you get the idea.
The other [more common] reality is that of laying on a padded table while a semi-casually-dressed Professional works out the knots in your muscles.
The former is where celebrities go to take Instagram-selfies. The latter is where anyone who is serious about taking care of their bodies and staying in peak physical condition will go to ensure that they are preventing injury, and keeping the body in an optimum state to continue training hard and seeing results!
But okay, so what are some of the benefits of Massage? Well, there are several. And the best thing is that they overlap/compliment some of the benefits that we’ve covered in past articles – Hot vs Cold [Part I] and Hot vs Cold [Part II].
Massage has been shown to reduce stress and improve blood pressure. It can lower both systolic and diastolic pressure, as well as cortisol levels (our “stress hormone”) with as little as just 10-15mins of actual massage being performed!
‘Massage… ensure better overall pliability of the muscle.’
It can significantly help with low-back pain – this may be a given, and again, possibly another benefit that just automatically comes to mind; however, Massage can be a good “first option” if you experience Low-Back Pain ahead of seeing a Physical Therapist. Think of it like this: a Massage Therapist can help prevent Low-Back Pain from becoming a serious issue. A Physical Therapist can help a serious case of Low-Back Pain to improve and become less painful over time. And a Personal Trainer who specialises in Low-Back Pain can help to strengthen the back muscles [post-therapy].
Another great benefit of Massage is that it can potentially increase your Range of Motion. Flexibility is very important, and having tight muscles will impede your flexibility greatly. While performing stretches before and/or after a workout is all good and well, you might want to consider Massage too as it will help alleviate tightness in parts of the muscle that just don’t get “worked” when you stretch. See, the thing with stretching is that it’s like stretching a rubber band – either end gets a good pull, but the middle/bulkiest part doesn’t get as much. Massage addresses that and ensures better overall pliability of the muscle.
The last benefit I want to touch on here is regarding sleep! Almost as a cumulative effect of reducing stress, blood pressure, the release of “relaxation hormones” (serotonin and dopamine) and the alleviation of pain – Massage can virtually trigger a perfect night’s sleep! You feel good physically – the muscles are relaxed. You feel good mentally – serotonin and dopamine will help you feel happy and at ease. Your blood pressure is lowered. It all makes an amazing formula for helping you get an awesome night of rest and recovery.
‘… a simple Full Body Massage – not quite as *intense*, but still worked a treat.’
Those are some of the main benefits of Massage. The idea to write about this came about after talking with a client of mine – he’s built like an NBA Pro, and commonly experiences cramps through his legs when he sleeps. So, we were discussing our experiences of having massage and how much it’s helped us each in the past.
I’ve only recently moved to Oregon, and I have yet to find myself a new Massage Therapist. See, back in the UK – when I was living in London – I had a guy who would do ‘Deep Tissue Massage’ on me once a month. It was pretty painful (being brutally honest) going through our sessions… however, *afterwards* – in the days that followed – I would feel such an immense alleviation of all the tension I’d been carrying from haulin’ iron in the gym for days/weeks on end.
When I was living in Spain I had a lady who I would see once every couple of months – she was one of the best in the country, so despite having her main office in Segovia (where I lived at the time), she would often go to Tenerife, Lanzarote, Barcelona and Madrid doing freelance work at some of the best resorts around Spain. I didn’t have ‘Deep Tissue’ done with her, but rather, a simple ‘Full Body Massage’ – not quite as *intense*, but still worked a treat. Back then, I was training at the Spartan Center – a gym run by two Bodybuilder buddies of mine – and for a brief stint, I had stopped with my Functional Training to focus even more on “Traditional Lifting”.
Even in South Korea I had a local place that I’d go with a friend of mine – we had massages given by what I can only describe as the female versions of David and Goliath! The one lady who worked on me was quite “petite”, but my friend had his done by a woman who [respectfully] could have been a professional Sumo Wrestler; I mean that in a good way – she was superb! Bent my friend up like a pretzel!!
Basically, what I’m getting at is that everywhere I’ve lived in the world I’ve always sought out a gym to keep fit. I know how to cook, so eating healthily has always been fine. I’ve sourced quality supplements for my training. And finally, I’ve looked up a good Massage Therapist to keep my body in performance condition! Stuff like Hot & Cold Showers, Essential Oils, and Sleep Apps are all things I can do by myself. But Massage is that one “luxury” (or ‘investment in my health’ – as I prefer to think of it – along with Fitness/Nutrition/Supplements) that I will always try to afford myself.
But there ya have it – a brief article on The Importance of Massage. I hope that it’s maybe helped you consider seeking out a recommendation for someone local who is excellent at Massage (whether it’s simply for Neck & Back, Full-Body or Deep Tissue). As cliché as it may sound: your body is your temple, and as such, you must look after it!
That’s all for now, but I’ll catch you in my next article – for CXP *Fitness* – where I’ll be discussing Body Fat Percentage…
For now though, remember: Love Life, and Love Yourself!
Yours in Training,
Chris Atkinson | Master Personal Trainer, SDO