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Massage, why does it work?

February 7, 2012

Researchers think they’ve discovered the actual physiological benefits of how and why post-workout massage works! Hallelujah! Most serious athletes have known for years that massage is an important recovery tool, in fact I use massage  for recovery after particularly tough weeks or races. Now, researchers document the actual physiological health benefits! You might remember, during exercise, tiny tears occur within the muscle fibers. These tiny tears cause our bodies to launch an immediate inflammatory response to quickly repair the damage. According to one recent study, massage reduced inflammation response (swelling) by reducing the production of cytokines which are associated with heavy inflammation. Not only that, but massage also helps stimulate production of mitochondria, that’s the ‘motherboard’ of our cells. It’s where we convert glucose to energy, needed to perform and to recover. Finally, results show  massage provides a physical and positive impact on recovery!


As a serious athlete, I’ve long touted the amazing recovery benefits from massage. It’s also why I have a ‘standing date’ with my foam roller, just before sleeping each night. Foam rolling your major muscle groups is akin to a professional massage. It will aid with recovery similar to laying on the massage table.  In fact, foam rolling helps self-myofascial release, also a vastly under-represented area of knowledge. Keep your eyes peeled for more foam rolling goodness.


In the meantime, take it upon yourself to find a sports massage therapist to help you recover better, ultimately allowing you to perform your best in your sport. How do you find a good massage therapist? I’ve always had great luck asking my ‘network’, but you should use your social network, or ask comrades who participate in a similar sport. Try to support a local small business while you’re at it!

Oh, and make a date with your foam roller to get up close and personal- daily. Need a foam roller? Start with the White or Blue, and progress to the Black –warning: not for the faint of heart.


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