Millions of people use weight training as a way to improve coordination, increase muscle mass, speed metabolism, and improve strength. When proper form is used, weight training can be very effective in helping you look and feel better.
By definition, weight training increases the amount of effort your muscles exert and challenges your metabolism to keep up with the increased energy needed to sustain those efforts. During the process, muscles react different ways. Sometimes weight lifters experience soreness because of microtears in the muscle fibers, or feel sore from the buildup of lactic acid and other natural body chemicals in the stressed areas. Even when your form is perfect, all this exertion and stressing of muscles can cause aches and pains. That’s where massage can really help.
Massage can help weight lifters
Massage helps speed recovery after workouts, helps prepare for competitions, and helps recovery during high-intensity cycles.
Massage helps weightlifters several ways:
- Massage increases blood flow through the body. Muscle tissues heal faster when they are invigorated with healthy blood flow. Soft tissue manipulation like massage focus the body’s awareness on the sore or affected areas and cause blood to flow.
- Massage stretches muscle fibers. A good sports massage therapist assesses the flexibility of muscle groups and applies massage techniques accordingly to promote a greater range of motion an more flexible muscles. It also releases “stuck” fascia and breaks up scar tissue that cause adhesions. Overall, the result is a more flexible muscle group and a reduced chance of injury.
- Massage can relax you and help you develop better sleep patterns. The focused relaxation that happens during massage has a longer term effect–it can actually help you sleep better. You’ll also sleep better when you aren’t sore or stiff.
- Massage can ease the symptoms produced by weightlifting’s impact on your joints and tendons. While there is no substitute for good form and “smart” lifting, regular weight training can, and probably will, cause some inflammation in joints and tendons. Massage helps to ease that pain and lessen swelling in inflamed tissues.
- Massage can help at any stage of your program. Your muscles experience different stressors when you first start than when you’re well along in a strength building program. A trained massage therapist can design a massage session appropriate for your immediate needs, then tailor your program as you build strength and stamina.
Alternative weight training
Recent research has shown that bodyweight training, training using only the natural weight your body carries, is also an effective way to become more fit, stronger and increase stamina. Bodyweight training puts you at much less risk of injury and encourages muscles to work together and creates a natural balance between agonist and antagonist muscles, as opposed to isolating each muscles for gain as many weightlifting routines do. As with weight-bearing training, bodyweight training can cause the aches and pains and soreness. Massage helps bodyweight strength builders the same way it helps weightlifters.
When to get a massage
Generally, massage is most effective within 6-12 hours after the weight lifters workout, but benefits are still gained 12-24 hours after your workout. Depending on the goal of the massage, most serous weight trainers who have incorporated massage into their training routine get about 1 massage per week from a qualified sports massage therapist. The results of a massage, like better sleep, feeling more calm and focused, and reduced muscle aches and pains, can last for days.
It doesn’t matter if you’re just beginning or if you’re a pro weightlifter, massage can have a huge positive impact on your training regimen.