The stroking techniques of massage have a pumping effect, which stimulates the circulation of blood and so increases both the supply and removal of substances at a cellular level, this improves recovery of body systems after exercise.
After an injury the excess fluid is removed by the lymphatic system. Lymph is moved by contraction of muscles which is often reduced after injury. Massage can provide stimulation of lymph vessels which aids dispersal of fluid from the injured area reducing recovery time.
Massage shortly after an injury has begun to heal can prevent excess scar tissue from forming, friction techniques can be used to break down scar tissue into smaller particles that can be removed by phagocyte cells (cells that remove waste products from injured areas).
Knots (adhesions) can be removed. This may take more than one session as knots are usually a result of long term build up of tension. Friction techniques loosen the knot allowing blood to flow more easily through it; this allows the phagocytes to access the damaged tissue and remove it, reducing the size and effect on movement of the knot.
Prevention of acute injuries occurs through regular massage which increases body’s ability to heal small injuries. This prevents small injuries building up to an acute injury.
Massage increases self awareness, this prevents future injury by identifying and treating current muscle weakness, tiredness and problems.
Massage can stretch specific areas of tissue that may not be possible with functional exercise; this can increase range and ease of movement.
Massage also has an effect on the nervous system. By releasing tension massage can restore balance in the parasympathetic nervous system and can have a positive effect on high blood pressure, migraines and insomnia. Massage reduces symptoms that cause negative sensory input; this is why most patients feel generally better after a treatment.
Sports Massage increases fitness capabilities and performance potential, peak performance can be reached faster and sustained for longer.
Information from Mel Cash Sports Massage and Louise Tucker An Introductory Guide to Massage
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