Spas are becoming very popular today. This is because many people go through pain and stress in their day-to-day activities, making it necessary for them to get some form of relief. Thankfully, muscle massages have proven to be effective in helping to heal sore muscles and cope with stress adequately.
What is Massage?
Massage is a treatment therapy that uses physical contact to help the body relax, revive and heal easily. Massage therapy is used to treat emotional and physical health problems. Massage involves stroking, kneading, warming, rolling, and pressing skin and muscles to get your body relaxed and revived. It is a form of therapy that involves applying pressure, holding and moving hands through the muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia to help “unlock” tightened muscles.
There are different types of massage, and their use is based on the purpose they intend to serve and how much pressure needs to be applied. Some types of massage help to soothe muscle pain, some help to increase energy levels, some help to improve specific physical conditions, and some help you relax. Generally, massages help you feel good and improve your mood. It positively affects your bones, heart, skin, muscle, breathing, digestion, and mental health. Massages help your body in the following ways:
- They relax and refresh knotted or tired muscles
- They help to increase blood circulation
- Massages help to stimulate the deep circulation of blood and lymph, helping your body revive, heal and work more efficiently.
- They stimulate the production of endorphins, a group of hormones that help relieve pain and improve mood.
Massages were used as a healing therapy by the Ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Chinese, and Indians. They employed massages in treating or reducing the symptoms of chronic back pain, delayed onset muscle soreness, anxiety, stress, soft tissue injuries, high blood pressure, and insomnia. Massages are still employed for such purposes today. Today’s practitioners use oil or talcum powder to allow their hands to glide slowly through your skin.
Benefits of Massage
Massage benefits the body in a good number of ways. One of the benefits of massage is that it helps your body feel relaxed and calm. Massage helps to stimulate the release of endorphins in the body. Endorphins are neurotransmitters responsible for reinforcing the positive feeling of well-being by reducing pain, inflammation and stress and promoting happiness. Massage also helps reduce the levels of stress hormones like adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine in the body. Other benefits of massage are:
- Massage helps to reduce muscle tension.
- It helps to improve blood circulation in the body
- It helps to stimulate the lymphatic system
- It significantly helps to reduce stress hormones
- Massage helps you stay relaxed and calm
- Increases joint mobility and flexibility
- It improves skin tone
- Improves healing and quick recovery of soft tissue injuries
- It helps to increase your mental alertness
- Massage reduces anxiety and depression.
Types of Massage
There are different types of massage depending on their purpose and their level of pressure on the skin. They include:
- Myotherapy: This type of massage helps treat soft tissue pain, dysfunction and injury that may be causing stiffness in the body. Its primary aim is to help the body’s soft tissue function well, i.e., the muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia.
- Remedial: This is a type of body massage that helps treat the symptoms of biomechanical dysfunction or injury. This is done by using a specific mobilization technique to help restore the body to normal.
- Therapeutic: This is also called the Swedish massage. It is the most popular form of massage. It is designed to help your body calm, relax and improve blood circulation.
- Lymphatic drainage: This is a type of massage with a gentle touch. It helps relax the nervous system and boosts the body’s immune system.
- Aromatherapy: This type of massage uses essential oil and massage oil to restore balance to the body.
- Baby massage: This type of massage is primarily given to babies with constipation, colic and sleeping problems. This massage also helps premature babies gain weight faster.
- Reflexology: This massage focuses on and helps to heal the body’s reflex points. This is done by applying pressure to the reflex points like the feet, hands, face and ear to help stimulate the body’s natural healing process.
- Shiatsu: Shiatsu massage helps improve energy flow and circulation in the body. This is done by working on certain points with a technique similar to acupuncture.
- Sports massage: This type of massage technique is given based on the nature of the stage of training or competition, sports injury or condition. This type of massage uses different techniques to enhance performance and help the body recover quickly.
- Deep tissue: This is a massage technique used to treat musculoskeletal issues like strains and sports injuries. This technique works by applying pressure using slow and deep strokes to target your muscles’ connective tissues and inner layers.
However, you shouldn’t get a massage if you are pregnant, have skin rashes, infections or cuts on your skin, fractured bones, or have a life-threatening illness.
Massage for Bodybuilding
There are certain massages given to weightlifters and bodybuilders. These massages help bodybuilders maintain mental and physical health, and also help them to perform better and recover faster from injury. These massages also help to;
- Improve flexibility for bodybuilding: Weight and bodybuilding training needs a lot of flexibility for better performance. However, massage helps your body to get the required flexibility and also helps to heal muscle fibers that are worn during training.
- Stretch muscle fibers and release muscle tensions: Massage helps release muscle tensions that can hold you back from building your muscles. It helps you stay to your weight training routine, improving performance.
- Improve breathing: Breathing is an important aspect of weightlifting. Massages help control your breathing, helping you make smooth and steady movements during training.
- Reduce pain: Weight training causes pain; hence massage helps to reduce this pain and injury from overworking the muscles. Once the pain is reduced, it helps you stay consistent with your weight training routine.
Bodybuilding massages target various body parts typically involved in weightlifting routines. These include the legs (quads, glutes and calves), the arms (biceps and triceps) and the torso.
Massaging Leg Muscles
Leg massages help relax and relieve sores in the various muscles that comprise the legs. This can help improve lower body strength to generate more power for weightlifting.
Leg massages can be self-done, or you could get someone to do them for you. To massage your leg muscles, follow these steps.
- Place and spread your fingers slightly on your ankle. Then place your hands opposite themselves.
- Apply pressure with your fingers while moving your hand from your ankle to the hip. You can apply enough pressure to feel your fingers in your muscles without causing pain. You can change between heavy and light pressure for convenience.
- Follow this same method from your ankle to your calf to your entire leg.
- You can repeat this up to 10 times per leg.
You should avoid leg massage if you have blood clots in your calf vein, swollen fluids in your leg, soreness, rashes, diabetes, painful varicose veins and osteoporosis.
Massaging Back Muscles
Back massages help increase blood flow to the muscle and the skin. They help to reduce chronic back pain and stiffness.
Back massages are rarely self-administered, but you can give someone else a back massage by following these steps:
- Put a small amount of lotion or oil on your hands, then rub your hands together to spread the lotion evenly.
- Place your hand slowly on the person’s back and start massaging the lower back. Next, move your hands upward on both sides all the way to the shoulders in a circular motion.
- You can press a bit firmly with your thumb for more pressure. Move from the shoulder down to the lower back with less pressure.
Massaging the Gluteal Muscle
The gluteal muscle is the butt muscle. You can apply Swedish, deep-tissue, and sports massage techniques for gluteal muscle. You can also use foam rollers to massage and stretch the muscles in your butt by yourself at home since they help put pressure on trigger points in your gluteal muscles.
How to Massage Hand Muscles
Relieving muscle tension in the hands can help improve grip, leading to more efficient weightlifting. You can self-administer a hand massage by following these steps:
- Use your thumb and forefinger to press into your waist and hand, moving slowly in a circular motion. You can do these on both sides of your hands under moderate pressure at least three times.
Massage devices may be used instead of hands to relieve tightened muscles. These devices may use vibration or firm pressure to achieve muscle relief. Two of the most common massage devices are; massage guns and foam rollers.
Muscle massage guns
A massage gun is a massage device that helps people to give themselves massages anytime and anywhere comfortably. They are called guns because they look like handguns. Massage guns help to give rapid force into your muscle tissue, helping to relieve stiffness and soreness. We have the handheld deep tissue massager and the percussion massage gun as the type of massage gun.
You can use a muscle massage gun before and after workouts. Massaging before workouts primes the muscles in preparation for the workout. Using a massage gun after workouts helps to relieve pain and muscle soreness.
When using a massage gun, adjust the depth and speed setting to avoid pain in sensitive muscles. However, do not use a muscle massage gun if you have bruises, bony areas, or severe pain.
Foam rollers are large cylinders made of solid foam. They come in different sizes and firmness levels, and are used to stretch away muscles, warm up muscles and help with massage comfortably at home.
Massage therapy has been proven to be effective in helping to relieve pain, hence helping bodybuilders stay consistent with their bodybuilding routine, thus improving performance of athletes and bodybuilders.
There are various types of massages that athletes can enjoy. These massages often entail that the athlete is massaged by someone else. However, massage devices like massage guns for athletes allow bodybuilders and athletes to self-administer massages anytime and anywhere they like.