A question commonly asked by Ballaura’s clients is, “When is the best time for a sports massage?”
Research has determined that the very best time to receive a sports massage is 45 minutes after your workout of the day (WOD), but that the human body also benefits greatly from massage within the first 1-24 hours post-WOD. Getting a massage during this time can help prevent Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) by helping to increase blood flow to the muscle tissues, prevent and reduce inflammation, and release and flush lactic acid – the acid that causes muscle soreness and post-WOD pain.
Another great time to receive sports massage is during a recovery or de-load day or week. At this point in time, the muscles are not being broken down by training, but are rebuilding and repairing. During a massage, the tissue is being broken down but is targeting scar tissue within the muscle.
Trigger points within the muscle are also targeted to help correct and encourage proper muscle movement, as well as healthy musculoskeletal development. Receiving a sports massage during recovery and de-load period will allow your body to accelerate the healing process.
Scheduling a sports massage preceding or following an athletic event – such as a race, triathlon, or another kind of sports competition – will benefit the athlete’s overall recovery and long-term performance. Massage improves range of motion and joint mobility and will lengthen muscle fibers, improve blood flow to the joints and muscles, and help the muscle tissue receive nourishment and electrolytes more effectively and efficiently.
A sports massage scheduled prior to an event should be at least three days prior to the event in order to ensure that muscles are at their peak performance level and have plenty of time to rest and prime for the challenges ahead.
Sports massage following an athletic competition can help lengthen muscles, decrease muscle tension, offset trigger points, and reduce inflammation – and allows the massage therapist to break down scar tissue before it has a chance to set in. Aligning muscle tissue and improving circulation also helps rid the body’s toxin build-up after a vigorous event that stresses the same muscles over and over. Massage can also help to alleviate the natural fight-or-flight response that sets in during an athletic competition. Another benefit of a post-competition massage is relaxing the body’s flight or fight hormones.
As fantastic as the thrill of competition is, running a 5k or marathon, participating in a Crossfit competition, or winning a weightlifting competition are not everyday events for our bodies – and can leave them stressed and weary. Just like exercise, training, and proper diet, sports massage represents a vital part of the serious athlete’s array of tools to keep their bodies in optimum shape – now and for the years of sports participation to come.