Next time you complete a work-out, whether it be a weights session in the gym, a vigorous spin class or finishing a Marathon, you need to consider this. Massage is proven to be a very effective way of speeding up the recovery process, healing sore muscles and preventing injury. When you next complete a strenuous activity and you think to yourself, “I’m going to be sore for days”, think about us and the services we provide and consider our advice on recovery tips below.
During any demanding activity, the body is put through an enormous amount of stress, which can result in the muscles and tissues becoming damaged. This damage comes in the form of shortened, tight muscles, mobility loss around the joints and decreased circulation. Don’t panic, we know all of this sounds much more serious than it actually is, however read our top 5 tips on the best ways to treat sore muscles and take that pain away.
1. Ice Baths
Ice baths are a great way of offsetting the damage done during exercise. For many, cold-water immersion isn’t their most favourite form of recovery but it has proven results. In a nutshell, being exposed to the cold constricts the blood vessels which reduces blood flow through the muscles. When the body is no longer in contact with the cold, the tissues are allowed to warm up which dilates the blood vessels, allowing fresh blood to flow quickly through the muscles. This increase in blood flow helps to flush the muscles of toxins that build up as a result of strenuous exercise and allows the flow of fresh blood and nutrients into the tissues to speed up the recovery process.
Scientific research does exist to support the use of ice baths as a form of recovery, however, the protocol that exists on the temperature of the water or the time the muscles need to be immersed is varied. From experience amongst our team, we can tell you that around 10-15 degrees Celsius for 10-20 minutes is sufficient to notice results.
“The behaviour a person adopts to recover, increase or maintain their range of movement”
Repetitive muscular contractions over long periods of time will cause the muscle fibres to shorten. Shortened muscles become tight muscles and can cause a restriction in range of movement around a joint. When the muscles are warm as a result of exercise and are gently stretched, it helps to elongate the muscle fibres, taking them back to their original, pre-exercised length and speeding up the recovery process. Being flexible ensures the body is allowed to move effectively, ultimately reducing the risk of injury.
We recommend Functional Stretching before exercise, which essentially mimics the movement of your activity, activating the muscle groups you are about to exercise and preparing them for movement. After exercise we suggest Static Stretching, holding a single stretch for up to 60 seconds. This form is effective when the muscles are already warm and need to be returned back to their normal length from a shortened, exercised position.
Compression products have become more and more popular in recent years. Graduated compression garments, commonly tights, shorts and calf guards puts graduated pressure on the veins to improve blood flow and circulation, reducing swelling, fatigue and aches. The compression is tighter lower down the body and looser higher up which causes a graduated effect to encourage the flow of blood from the extremities. As blood needs to circulate to become oxygenated, this graduated compression works the flow of blood back towards the heart to pick up blood fresh with oxygen and nutrients from the lungs, pushing it back towards the muscles that need it. Likewise, this encouraged blood flow forces waste products associated with exercise away from the muscles which accelerates recovery, reducing both muscle soreness and general fatigue.
4. Rest & Refuel
After vigorous exercise, it’s not just the musculo-skeletal system that is damaged and sore. Exercising to exhaustion also affects your hormonal and neurological systems too. By resting, ideally with legs elevated, blood flow will be encouraged and recovery rate increased. Good quality sleep allows your body to regain its natural balance, contributing to your bodies’ ability to recuperate.
The sooner you can refuel with a nutritious intake of food or drink post-exercise the better. This ensures the vital nutrients are replaced as quickly as possible, allowing recovery to take place immediately. Something easy to digest like a smoothie or shake will suffice, preferably containing a high amount of protein to start muscle repair as soon as possible. And of course, the obvious…drink lots of water to help you rehydrate!
And last but by no means least, use Massage as an essential form of recovery! Massage will increase your circulation therefore promoting the movement of oxygen and nutrients through the muscles and assisting with flushing the waste products associated with the after-effects of exercise out of your muscles. A tight muscle has a tendency to pull at the alignment of a joint causing discomfort in the muscles and the joint. A massage will reduce this tension and realign the body, reducing pain. All of these elements are crucial in reducing muscle soreness and fatigue. Despite your muscles being sore after exercise, a massage doesn’t need to hurt. A skilled Practitioner will alter the depth of the massage to ensure the tissues start to recover quickly, without causing you any more pain.