The Benefits of Massage for Bodybuilders
Long strenuous training sessions and injury can slow down your development as a bodybuilder, but sports massage can improve performance by reducing the potential for injury. By improving the circulation of blood, and therefore oxygen and nutrients to the tissues, massage can help remove toxins, alleviate pain, improve movement and potentially even assist with muscle growth.
RANGE OF MOTION & FLEXIBILITY
Range of motion will be limited if the muscles are tight, and this in turn will increase the risk of injury. Massage helps to improve range of motion by:-
• breaking down scar tissue and adhesions from previous injuries which can cause pain, reduced flexibility and increased risk of injury
• releasing tension by stretching the fascia surrounding the muscles
• improving tissue elasticity by stretching bundles of muscle fibres in both directions
• working on muscle imbalances within opposing muscle groups eg.tight pectorals in bench pressers with less developed back muscles
Tight muscles may impair muscle tone because they don’t hold blood very well and therefore don’t receive nutrients needed for growth and repair of muscles. A pumping technique can be used where more pressure is applied in the beginning of the stroke to create a vacuum effect which will pump fluid through the blood and lymph vessels more effectively.
The benefits of massage to the circulatory system assist bodybuilders in the following ways:-
• Increased blood circulation and the nutrition that comes with it is required to repair micro trauma to the muscle and fascia which can occur with heavy training
• improved circulation allows the bodybuilder to breathe more easily when lifting
• improved lymphatic and blood circulation promotes quicker recovery and return to training following injury, smoother movement and improved performance, due to increased removal of waste and toxins and increased oxygenation and nutrition
• tight muscles can reduce blood flow to the muscles and removal of waste, which in the recovery phase of training means less nutrition to rebuild tissues and reduced strength adaptation . Consequently progress will be slower
• The vacuum created by massage strokes helps to increase permeability in the fibrous tissues, which allows for increased circulation of oxygen,nutrients and fluids and increased removal of waste which in turn promotes muscle repair.
CELL GROWTH AND ENERGY PRODUCTION
Massage helps to repair the tissues on a cellular level and this helps to improve energy levels and muscle growth in the following ways:-
• Research has shown, following massage, a 30% increase in development of mitochondria, needed for cell growth and energy production and decreased action of genes linked with inflammation. Massage therefore helps to alleviate pain and inflammation and reduce recovery time.
• Increased development of mitochondria also means improved strength and endurance due to increased production of ATP( adenosine triphosphate) which is used as energy .
• Increased mitochondrial density, by these means, can assist with increased muscle growth
• Mitochondria-protective and energy-boosting micronutrients include Acetyl-L-carnitine, alpha-lipoic acid, coenzyme Q10, resveratrol, and magnesium aspartate. Given that the thyroid hormone helps to regulate the function of mitochondria, kelp, which is high in iodine,is also beneficial as it promotes healthy thyroid hormone levels.
Massage can assist with relieving both physical and mental tension:-
• Stretching of the tissues in both directions helps muscle fibres release tension
• Bodybuilders tend to exhibit a type-A personality which makes relaxation difficult so stress can become an issue. By learning to relax body and mind through massage there is potential for improved performance
Massage can be very useful in alleviating pain due to overuse or injury, which again will help improve performance. It does this by stimulating specific nerve fibres and inhibiting transmission of pain stimuli, thus closing the pain gate and changing the perception of pain.
Sleep is essential for muscle recovery and massage is proven in promoting good quality sleep, which reduces stress and improves performance.
Muscle recovery is improved through increased tissue permeability which brings more nutrients to repair damage and assist with muscle growth, and increases removal of waste products which build up during training and inhibit muscular contraction.
SPORT INJURY PREVENTION
Massage can be used to treat muscle tightness and work on trigger points and scar tissue that can potentially increase your risk of injury.
Pre-event massages before a bodybuilding competition can improve performance by enhancing your mental state, boosting confidence and reducing any built up tension from training.