Massage and Weightlifting
by Donald W. Gillmore, Licensed Massage Therapist (March 1996, reprinted by permission of Zia Sports:Health and Fitness News Letter)
Many weight lifters and body builders know that massage is relaxing. However, sports massage is more than just a reward at the end of a workout, it is a vital
tool for increasing strength, bulk and performance while speeding recovery from maximum effort workouts, competition events or injuries.
Most of us already carry our stress around in the form of "tense" neck and shoulder muscles. Others have old injuries which restrict their
range of motion and ability to lift or squat. In addition, repetitive and stressful movements can result in sore, fatigued and overworked muscles which tighten up. Even stretching after a workout does not
ensure that all of the contracted muscle fibers have relaxed. These contracted areas decrease blood flow, prevent toxin removal, restrict range of motion and rob you of muscle capacity.
The focus of sports massage is to identify and treat these areas. Jack Meagher, author of Sports Massage, claims that you can gain 20% in performance
through regular sports massage. I have seen weight lifters improve on their personal best after a single massage session. Because massage increases flow of blood and nutrients to muscles, it helps build new
muscle faster. This means greater gains in strength and bulk.
Sports massage uses a combination of gliding, kneading, vibration, pressure and cross-fiber strokes plus various stretching techniques. Tight
"Traps" and "Pecs" need to be relaxed and stretched. "Knotted" areas are worked out with point pressure and deeper strokes. A painful hamstring, might require cross-fiber and deep
strokes to break up the muscular scar tissue followed by stretching. Depending on how often and how hard you train, scheduling a massage once a month or even once a week is recommended.
No one likes to think about injuries, but everyone is going to overdo it eventually. Pushing yourself to the max or beyond may be deliberate or
accidental, but once you have overdone it, you'll know it.
Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation (RICE) are recommended immediately after an injury. If severe pain or loss of function occur, consult a doctor. But,
once injuries have moved past the acute stage, sports massage can accelerate the healing process; increase range of motion; reduce swelling, bruising, pain and adhesions. Areas of stress in other muscles,
created through compensating for an injury, can be eased. Sports massage can partially compensate for a lack of exercise during inactivity while recovering from injury.
Sports massage helps increase strength, bulk, flexibility and range of motion while decreasing your chance of injury. If injuries occur, sports massage
can reduce pain and speed recovery. Besides, it feels good.
Donald Gillmore is a licensed massage therapist with Earth Spirit Therapies
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