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How Massage Helps with Workout Recovery


Benefits of massage for recovery

Depending on your impressions of massage and your experiences with therapeutic massage, you may know that working the muscles before and after a workout can be not only a soothing and relaxing experience for your body but also promote muscular, cardiovascular, and psychological recovery.

Here are just a few ways that massage can help you in your own quest for fitness.

It promotes physical and mental relaxation

The type of massage that we’re referring to here is what is more specifically known as “massage therapy”, and includes most types of sports massage, myofascial release, and deep tissue massage.

Massage therapy uses techniques and manipulations, manually or with tools, to apply pressure and movement to muscles and other soft tissues.

One major effect of this is to slow down the body’s nervous system, which in turn calms the mind, decreasing stress and tension in the body overall.

This decrease in stress can promote the healing of injuries and create a general feeling of wellness and relaxation.

In a controlled study cited by Harvard Medical School, people who had received four weeks of localized massage “slept better and had less anxiety and depression than people in the control group who didn’t...”

Massage works trigger points in the body

Massage is the most common way of stimulating the fascia in the body (we explain that here, in case the term is unfamiliar!), as part of the process of myofascial release.

The goal of this is to lessen muscular tension and relieve the feelings of pain and tightness around the “trigger points” of fascia that exist across the body.

Myofascial release massage, when used as part of a physical training regime, addresses key trigger points across the body based on the state of your muscles pre- and post-workout.

This, in turn, helps muscles return to normal states and promotes their growth and regeneration after workouts.

Pain reduction

Massage therapy’s effectiveness in relieving pain in the back, hands, neck, and knees, in particular, has shown promising results.

In a study conducted with groups of regularly exercising participants, “groups experienced soreness immediately after exercise. [An] exercise-and-massage group reported no continuing soreness 90 minutes after massage therapy. [A second], exercise-only group, reported lasting soreness 24 hours after exercise.”

In recent years, hospitals and clinics have found that massage can be used in combination with other methods to even reduce acute and chronic pain in patients with a wide array of painful conditions.

Massage improves circulation

Massage can also be beneficial to your cardiovascular health in the long term.

In the same study mentioned above, researchers also measured the levels of blood flow in participant groups via “an ultrasound reading of the upper arm at 90 minutes, 24, 48 and 72 hours after exercises” following the controlled exercise and massage period.

What they found was that the group who had both exercised and received massage therapy showed improved blood flow each time they were tested, and that the improved flow only returned to normal after the 72-hour mark.

The group that had only exercised but not received therapeutic massage, however, “showed reduced blood flow after 90 minutes and 24 and 48 hours, with a return to normal levels at 72 hours.”

Using massage equipment in your training

Not having a massage therapist shouldn’t prevent you from being able to see these benefits too. You can easily incorporate massage into your exercise routines while on your Training Journeys without much prior skill training on massage techniques.

Simply using massage equipment as directed can get you there.

Try a short massage session before and after your Warmup and Cooldown, and try to pay attention to the sensations you feel in the areas you are working.

Why use vibration massage and percussion massagers?

Recently, therapeutic vibration massage equipment has become more well-known and accessible to the average person, and they are now seen alongside the more traditional massage implements such as the fascia ball or smooth and textured foam rollers.

And while both vibration-enabled and traditional massage tools are effective for achieving the above-mentioned benefits, adding different levels of vibration to massage can provide an extra level of consistency and technical control over the experience.

A vibration/percussion massager (sometimes called a “massage gun” or a “massage hammer”) enhances the effects of myofascial release that you get from traditional foam rolling and fascia ball trigger point release.

This turns out to be especially helpful for the vast majority of us who work out often but can’t visit a massage therapy professional as part of our long-term exercise routines.

Recovery equipment bundles from Hyperice & Freeletics

We’ve partnered with Hyperice, recognized leaders in the area of vibration massage equipment, to offer some great combinations of their products and our own Freeletics Essentials equipment, curated specifically to complement each other’s uses and provide a well-rounded recovery experience.

The bundle combining Hyperice’s GO massage device with the Freeletics Foam Roller gives you the ability to modulate your massages and choose the best tool for trigger point release and pain relief, depending on your needs:

These combinations enable you to combine the precise myofascial release you get through Hyperice’s massage guns with advanced stretching via our Resistance Band and Stretch Block:
Check out more recovery equipment
Stay tuned to the blog for more content on massage, myofascial release, and physical recovery in general.