One of the first spas I worked at as a massage therapist, I had a charismatic manager who loved to chat with the clients. She was always pointing out how massage therapy was improving their health. One of her sayings that has stuck with me was this: “One hour of massage is like three days of recovery time for your muscles.” I’m not sure where she got this from, but it was an easy thing to remember and our clients loved that they were helping their bodies while also getting to relax! One thing is true, our bodies love massage, and massage loves our bodies. And everyone wants more from their workouts, and massage can help us do just that.
When we say that massage helps our muscles recover from a workout, we’re not just talking about people who like, REALLY, workout. If you are a gym rat, then that’s great! But even if your exercise looks more like taking the dog for a walk everyday, massage is still helping your muscles recover faster than not.
No matter what type of exercise we’ve participated in, using our bodies can make our muscles and tissues tired and fatigued. If we’ve been doing some heavy lifting, microscopic tears will happen in our muscles. As the muscle repairs itself, over time it becomes bigger and stronger. This is how lifting weights helps us to increase the size and strength of our muscles. All this running around and throwing dumbbells can be hard on a body though! If we want to really reap the full benefit of our workouts, we have to give our bodies rest and nourishment so they can recover. (And then do it all over again!)
If we want to know how massage helps us recover from exercise, we have to look back at the basics of what massage therapy actually does for our muscles and tissues. First of all, massage increases the level of nutrition by enhancing the delivery of oxygenated blood to our tissues. That oxygenated blood is like a power smoothie for our muscles! Secondly, massage therapy helps increase the removal of cellular waste. (Don’t want that sticking around, yuck.)
Massage therapy also increases the excitability of muscles. This makes them more sensitive to nerve impulses, which leads to faster reaction times, better coordination, and more effective movements. You don’t have to be a pro athlete to appreciate that!
Lastly, massage encourages lactic acid out of the muscles. Lactic acid is a chemical that is responsible for muscle fatigue. When our muscles get tired, the lactic acid in them builds up. Massage flushes that out, helping to speed up muscle recovery. I don’t know if it’s equal to “three days” of recovery time, but I know for sure that getting regular massages helps with muscle recovery!
Schedule your self-care time today!