Carving out time for you is not just pleasurable but necessary. Self-care is about making sure you can give the best of you not just the rest of you. So, often massages are viewed as a ‘treat’ or something we turn to with injuries - but in fact creating time for massages regularly isn’t just enjoyable, it can improve your health and exercise performance results.
Whether you prefer Remedial, Swiss, Deep tissue, Ayurvedic, Thai or TCM - by combining your exercise routine with massage therapy, you will be able to train longer and harder and make the most of your workout. Here’s how…
1. Improves post-workout recovery
A good therapeutic massage helps loosen up your muscles after a workout, which in turn allows you to recover from the impact better and faster than you normally would.
2. It soothes sore muscles and pain.
Massaging, stretching and foam rolling sore muscles can help work out knots and flush out the toxins that contribute to pain. A massage also increases circulation, stimulates and strengthens the lymphatic system and activates blood so muscles don’t hurt so much. Massages help reduce inflammation and swelling and help cells recover.
3. It makes your muscles work better
Regular exercise not only puts a strain on your muscles, ligaments and tendons, but it also messes with those connective fibres under the skin known as your fascia — which help the muscles work smoothly and efficiently when they're in good shape. The fascia can get tight with repeated exercise, especially if you are doing the same movements throughout the day or in your workouts. This makes it harder for muscles to slide and move easily. A massage helps by loosening up those fibres, so the muscles are doing what they're supposed to with much less effort.
4. It can increase flexibility
Massage can restore some flexibility, increase range of motion and improve soft tissue function. Just like stretching, restorative and yin yoga, a massage helps to keep your muscles lubricated, loose and in turn, keeping you more flexible.
5. It helps you feel better, mentally
Sometimes working out too hard or too much isn’t always what we need. Rest is as important as movement, especially in times of illness and injury. Massage is a cortisol reducer, a natural stress reliever, which is a great balance to the happy endorphins you get from working out. It also improves your sleep by increasing delta waves - brain waves connected to deep sleep, which is why sometimes we drift off on the massage table.
And in recent years, a wave of studies has documented some incredible emotional and physical health benefits that come from touch itself, suggesting that touch is truly fundamental to human health.
The best workout plans are those combining exercise with self-care. Instead of only pushing our bodies, we must rest and recover. Massages, along with increasing magnesium in your diet and swimming in our magnesium pool, or having an Epsom salts bath, staying hydrated, eating correctly and getting good sleep are all essential for maintaining fitness goals and wellbeing. Hot and cold therapy such as ice baths and hot water bottles can also greatly improve recovery and health. Sauna stints can reduce oxidative stress and using the Elixr steam room gives you the maintenance you need to partner with a well-rounded fitness regimen.
Given how much our daily lives are spent constantly connected, overstimulated, and always on the go, the need for balance and giving time to yourself (especially to recover) combined with a fitness routine has never been greater.
Felicia Robey is an Ayurvedic Practitioner, Elixr Yoga Teacher and Massage Therapist.