Can Massage Make You Stronger?John Stamoulos
If you are an exercise junkie, then massage can play a significant role in post-workout rehabilitation as well as contribute to the prevention of future injury. The question is, can massage actually make your muscles stronger?
Massage can help directly repair muscles in these ways:
- Mobilises toxicity – The long stroking movements of massage helps to efficiently move fluid throughout the body’s circulatory system. Increased pressure is created at the front of a massage stroke. The resulting suction on the backside of the stroke automatically encourages the increase in the flow of oxygen-carrying blood and fluids to the muscles that flushes out toxicity, which helps repair damage.
- Receives nutrition – Deep tissue massage helps the fibrous tissues of the muscles become more open, allowing for more effective absorption of nutrients thus generating more rapid muscle healing.
- Smooths out restrictions that prevent full muscle range of motion and potential strength – Both myofascial release and trigger point massage are particularly useful in clearing the cramps and bursa irritations that can restrict blood flow and thus weaken the muscle’s potential.
- Promotes flexibility and optimal muscle operation in the muscle fibers – It dissolves scar tissue in fascia, joints and tissues which encourages optimal muscle performance
- Improves circulation – With better nutrient availability, muscles recover more quickly and are given the opportunity to utilise their full potential
- Releases muscle tension – Massage invokes deep relaxation throughout the body, which promotes less pain and physical stress. This in turn allows for deeper, restorative and healing sleep.
- Proactively identifies lesser micro-issues – Regular massage can be part of a preventative protocol that locates and heals future trouble spots before they can hinder muscle performance.
Weakened Muscles Restored by Massage
Utilisation of massage such as sports, deep tissue or Swedish massage techniques, allow healing and repair of the body’s exhausted and weakened muscles after strenuous exercise.
According to a study conducted at McMaster University in Canada (https://fhs.mcmaster.ca/pediatrics/How_massage_aids_muscle_healing.html), when massage is added as a post-exercise protocol, it results in the muscles becoming more relaxed and more able to respond to the effects of the exercise. Muscles that are no longer stressed can grow and become stronger.
Scientists also believe another reason for this increased muscle strength is that massage encourages the muscles to build mitochondria within the body’s cells. Mitochondria take nutrients from the blood into the cells and turn and convert it into energy that each cell needs to perform its function. They play a critical role in healing. When mitochondria malfunction, such effects as muscular atrophy and insulin resistance are known to occur.
Thus although massage is not directly responsible for increased body strength, it is a critical agent of healing for the body’s muscle structure. The techniques used during massage therapy session helps release tension in muscle fibers, and elongates and widens the muscles tissues for improved circulation and nutrient absorption into the cells. When that happens, the muscles are freed to heal so they can perform at their peak potential.
With massage, Get ready to put a super-hero cape on your muscles!