Transformation of the body when you workout is a complex process. It takes a lot of effort to build muscle, lose fat, and sculpt a physique in order to achieve your fitness goals. But fitness does not end there. There is another very important aspect to fitness, i.e recovery. This is one of the most overlooked aspects of training. Now, what exactly is recovery? Recovery involves the normalisation of heart rate and blood pressure, as well as a replenishment of energy stores, and a restoration of cellular enzymes. Functionally, it can be thought of as a return to a point where the body can match or exceed its performance in a previous exercise session or competition. If you don’t fully replenish the energy lost prior to your next exercise session, then your performance will be compromised and fatigue will set in. Tough training damages muscles, creating micro-tears and roughing up everything from connective tissue to contractile proteins. That’s necessary for muscle growth, but until the repair process is complete, your muscular functions will be slowed. A muscle needs anywhere from 24 to 48 hours to repair and rebuild, and working it again too soon simply leads to tissue breakdown instead of building. Weight training sometimes leads to knots and stiffness. Thus, the fascia gets stiff and tight. Basic recovery involves proper nutrition and sleep. But that may not suffice. There are many methods of recovery such as, Ice baths, Massages, Stretching, Visualisation Exercises etc. that one can adopt to avoid injuries.
Taking an ice-cold bath may sound painful, but some believe it's one of the easiest, quickest ways to soothe post-workout pains. It reduces inflammation and improve recovery by changing the way blood and other fluids flow through your body. When you sit in cold water, your blood vessels constrict; when you get out, they dilate. This process helps flush away metabolic waste post-workout. Active rest too, is a great way of recovery. Active rest means that during your workout, instead of sitting on a bench to rest, you are doing one of three things: stretching, hydrating, and fine tuning form. This means you are improving your body and recovering during the workout, not just after. Similarly, Massages serve as a great post workout activity for recovery.
Massages appears to not only make you feel better, but also speed up muscle recovery. Massage has long been used to recover from intense exercise. It aids the process of strengthening and conditioning after a workout. Massages should be strictly included as a post workout activity. It has a lot of benefits including relaxation, stress relief and increased range of motion. It also reduces inflammation and promotes the growth of new mitochondria, improving endurance and performance by increasing the rate at which cells and muscles utilise oxygen and decreasing recovery time.
Here are some types of massages that should be a part of your post workout recovery-
1. MFR Massage
Myofascial Release or MFR is a style of massage that is most often used in therapeutic massage. It claims to treat skeletal muscle immobility and pain by relaxing contracted muscles, improving blood and lymphatic circulation, and stimulating the stretch reflex in muscles. Fascia is that complex compound which holds our muscles, nerves and organs together. We may experience pain or difficulty in our muscles without actual injuries. This is due to the stiffness of the fascia. MFR massages adapt techniques that are designed to go in and smooth out those hard knots, returning the fascia to its normal fluid and adaptable self.
2. Sports Massages
Sports Massages are developed to help with muscle systems used for a particular sport. They use a variety of approaches to help athletes in training; before, during, or after sports events. It also facilitates better flexibility and helps prevent injuries. Or, it may help muscle strains, aiding healing after a sports injury. The therapist manipulates the muscles used most in your sport to break up scar tissue and improve mobility, while also helping dilate blood vessels to promote circulation and the removal of waste products to reduce soreness and tension.
3. Deep Tissue Massages
This is a rather vigorous, focused massage that targets the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue to break up adhesions and release chronically tight muscles. It is specifically recommended for chronic aches and pains and contracted areas such as stiff neck and upper back, low back pain, leg muscle tightness, and sore shoulders. The massage therapist uses slow, deliberate strokes that focus pressure on layers of muscles, tendons, or other tissues deep under your skin.
4. Foam Rolling
Foam Rolling is a very effective technique where you roll the tight muscle on a hard, cylindrical foam roller to increase blood flow to the area and reduce inflammation. It can be performed without anyone’s help using a foam roller or a therapy ball. Deep compression helps to break up or relax tight muscles and adhesions formed between muscle layers and their surroundings. This leads to a better blood circulation. It gives the exact boost to the body to restore its optimal muscle health. Foam rolling can also substantially reduce the chances of soreness after your workout.
Stretching has benefits similar to massage's. It gets the blood flowing to overactive muscles that have contracted because of stress or immobility. Without a good stretch, these muscles can spasm and shut down. Stretching is very important for your body. Whether you lead a sedentary lifestyle or an active one, stretching is a must. It lengthens soft tissues and relieves the tightness and tension that’s built up in your muscles when you have overused them.
Receiving massage therapy can be extremely relaxing and therapeutically beneficial to the body. Over time, accumulation of physical stress and strenuous exercises can take a toll on your muscles and joints. This can lead to fascial adhesions and muscle injuries. Thus, indulge in some post workout recovery activities to avoid these injuries.