Many people know that massage benefits tired and aching muscles, but how specifically does it do this?
Skiing, skinning and all alpine activities require a lot of power. The shortening of muscle fibres generates power. As you become more powerful, you recruit more fibres to shorten. A muscle cannot lengthen, it can only relax. A result of increased power is muscle shortening, tight muscles, reduced movement at a joint and decreased circulation to the muscle. All of these factors can increase the potential of injuring yourself whether that be broken bones, muscle injuries or soft tissue injuries.
How can we avoid this shortening of muscles? Stretching is very important. Stretching before and after skiing is important. After long, heavy skiing sessions, stretching to calves, hamstrings, quads, gluteals, obliques, etc. should be carried out. To effectively stretch all the muscles you have used with skiing will take about an hour. Let’s be honest, even those people who are good at stretching, don’t stretch for an hour in the morning and evening when skiing full days.
Massage is effective to elongate muscles, relieve muscle tightness, restore movement and improve circulation at a joint. Sports massage and deep tissue massages work to effectively undo the negative effects created by increased power without decreasing the power to the muscles. By stripping through muscles with pressures we can elongate fibres, which have spent all day working hard to shorten, allowing you to feel restored and recovered for the next day without any loss of power.
Massage of any kind is also very effective for the circulatory system. You can improve your cardiac fitness as much as you like but if the circulatory system is not working effectively to transport the oxygen to the muscles where it is needed, the rest of the body does not feel the benefits. The circulatory system works to transfer oxygen, deliver nutrients and remove waste products from cells. Blood is delivered to muscle tissue, enriched in oxygen and nutrients like glucose and electrolytes, and leaves removing metabolic by-products and waste.
Therapeutic massage increases circulation, increases the diameter of blood vessels as well as decreasing blood pressure. The impact of these factors is that you recover faster, improve performance and also prevent injuries. These effects are only gained through strong deep pressure being applied through a massage. A relaxing spa massage will not have the same effects.
Due to training at high altitude, our bodies produce more red blood cells. This only becomes effective if our bodies know what to do with them. We need our body to be working optimally to be able to take the most oxygen from the red blood cells and clear away the by-products produced quickly and efficiently. Without this, we cannot properly benefit from altitude training.
The million-dollar question everyone asks us is how often should I have a massage. The effects of a massage are cumulative. Regular massages will ensure that the effects are maintained over time. Pre event massage is important but it will not reap the same benefits. Everybody’s body is different. Some people suffer more with tight muscles and muscle ache the next day. A programme of massages should be discussed with the therapist.
At massage1936, we are a team of highly trained massage therapists all with a number of years experience of working with athletes and sports professionals. We can provide a tailored massage service to suit your needs and we can work individually with you to ensure you get the most out of your holiday, event training or just general life in the mountains.