Massage For Athletes

by John W. Cartmell, LMP

Whether training for competition or exercising for general health, the serious athlete employs specific regimens to help him achieve his personal goals. Dietary supplements, carbohydrate loading, training to peak at the date of competition and more recently, massage. Massage is increasingly seen as essential to achieving optimal effects in physique, performance and stamina. The recipient experiences less injury and faster recovery when injuries do occur.

When the muscles are really worked, lactic acid builds up as oxygen demand exceeds supply. Athletes refer to this as "oxygen debt". The lactic acid irritates the muscles and nerves sending a message to the brain to decrease activity. The irritation also causes the muscles to tighten causing the circulation to become restricted.

Athletes are more subject to injury if they don’t warm up properly by stretching and loosening. When injury does occur, it often heals with some scar-like tissue interweaving with the muscle fibers. This makes the tissue abnormal. It doesn’t perform as long or as efficiently. The adhesions irritate the muscle and it tightens against the pain, again clamping down on the circulation. Massage breaks this cycle by breaking up the adhesive material, flushing the circulation and setting the stage for normal repair and function.

Muscles that are loosened by massage breathe, metabolize fuel and perform better. They are also less subject to fatigue or injury. Some effects of massage are felt immediately and sometimes permanent improvement is seen.

Anyone serious about staying in shape should get in touch with massage.

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