Therapeutic Methods To Boost Recovery!

Learn how massages, saunas, and stretching can be used to enhance recovery abilities!

We have been speaking mainly about nutrition and supplementation's role of speeding up recovery. Now we will talk about a few other methods that can be used to enhance recovery abilities. Massage is a great tool for speeding up recovery. It helps the athlete physically and psychologically rests. Saunas are great for easing post-exercise aches and pains. Stretching has also been shown to be a key factor in proper recovery as well as in proper flexibility. Stretching also reduces the chance of injury.

Massage ///

Massage has been an important part of European athletes' for many years. Just recently, North American athletes have learned to appreciate the value of massage. A study conducted by Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, found promising evidence to support the benefits of massage. In this study, a group of cyclists pedaled until complete fatigue and then took a ten-minute rest. During the ten-minute rest period. Half of the cyclists received a massage while the other half didn't.

After the rest period, the cyclists were asked to perform 50 knee extensions on a leg machine. The results showed that the cyclists who received massages were 11% stronger than the athletes who did not receive massage. With compelling evidence such as this, it is undoubtable that massage has benefits for athletes. Massage can also help maintain the health of muscles.

Maintenance Of Muscle ///

Muscle can help improve muscle recovery, which leads to efficient training. Massage can improve the circulation of bodily fluids. With increased circulation, tissues are better able to receive nutrients and other substances that are vital for optimal body functioning. Massage also helps decrease the swelling of muscles and relaxes and stretches sore muscles.

Massage does not directly affect normal muscle strength but it is more effective than rest at optimizing your recovery abilities. Massage keeps your muscles healthy and flexible. I would recommend that all athletes should have massages from time to time. If you have access to a massage on a regular basis it would be beneficial to add it to your program. Once you have a massage, you will be amazed how good you will feel during and after the massage.

Massage Before Competition ///

Pre-competition massage can be a tool for increasing or decreasing the stimulation level of nerve cells, ligaments, and joints, which helps in keeping them loose and flexible. This can help to prevent excessive micro-trauma (injury to cell membranes). Massage before a competition focuses on stretching and warming up the tendons and ligaments of the legs and arms. These connective tissues do not have their own blood supply; therefore it takes longer to warm them up. Massage improves the bodies' circulation; hence improved blood flow to the tendons and ligaments.

It is important that an athlete's tendons and ligaments be properly warmed up before engaging in a competition. When properly warmed up, performance ability is increased and the chance of injury is decreased. Pre-competition massage also helps nervous athletes to relax and calm down before competition. It is recommended that the massage should be performed before the specific warm-up. After the massage, pre-competition stretching and warming up should be performed.

Massage After A Competition ///

A massage after an athletic event is very relaxing. Most athletes that have massages after their events say this is the best method of relaxation. The massage helps the mind and body to relax. Massages performed after a workout or competition help to relieve the effects of muscular fatigue. Massage helps the body by relieving soreness and stiffness and it allows the muscles to maintain flexibility and looseness. The joints, tendons and ligaments are also helped in the same manner. Research says that post-workout or post-competition massage can speed up recovery time by as much as two times faster than rest alone. When given a massage, the body is able to transport nutrients and oxygen better to the muscles because of the enhancing blood flow.

The by-products of metabolism are also carried away from the muscles more efficiently; therefore increasing recovery time. Intense exercise results in micro-trauma. Massage can help decrease the soreness associated with micro-trauma. The post workout massage should last at least 30 minutes. This allows adequate time for the body to be relieved physically and mentally. The massage should be given a minimum of 90 minutes after your last meal. This allows the meal too be partially digested before the massage begins. During digestion, most of the body's blood flow is directed toward the stomach. By allowing partial digestion to have taken place, the massage is better able to direct the blood flow to the muscles.

Massage Helps Injuries ///

Massage has been shown to accelerate the recovery of injured muscles. Massage also allows for a greater range of motion of the injured muscle. Andy Pruitt, Certified Athletic Trainer and Director of Sports Medicine of the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine, advises that massage therapy for muscle damage should not be performed immediately after the injury. This would only worsen the condition. He recommends that massage therapy should not be given any sooner than 48 hours after the injury occurs.

Also, be sure the swelling and pain have ceased before undergoing massage therapy. Massage therapy induces blood and lymph movement, which increases nutrition to the muscles and joints and also reduces swelling and eliminates inflammatory waste products. Deep breathing, massage or muscular movement induces lymph movement. Massage helps to trigger lymphatic vessels when exercise is obsolete.

Saunas ///

Saunas offer a variety of beneficial effects to the user. Saunas induce perspiration, which helps in ridding the body of toxins. Saunas also increase circulation and raise body temperature, which helps the body fight aches and pains. Studies also show they help to relieve muscle tension. For athletes, the relief of muscle tension leads to quicker recovery between workouts. This also results in a feeling of emotional and physical well being. The heat of a sauna has been shown to speed up the disposal of by-products that are produced during exercise. During long bouts of exercise, the body may break down tissue protein to use for energy.

This increases the body's level of nitrogen. Nitrogen is usually removed from the blood by the kidneys then expelled in the urine. With the help of a sauna, nitrogen is also released through the skin. The use of a sauna can help speed up recovery by assisting the kidneys with ridding the body of nitrogen. Research has also shown that saunas can have benefits to the cardiovascular system.

In addition to this, saunas help prepare the body for hot weather by exposing the body to the humid heat produced by a sauna. The body's coolant system becomes adapted to these high heat levels. This could be very beneficial to athletes who compete in hot weather. By using the sauna on a regular basis, the body will be able to withstand the hot weather outside without a problem.

Saunas are not recommended for effective weight loss. You will probably lose weight while in a sauna, but this weight loss will be due to a loss of water. The weight will come back immediately when you rehydrate yourself. Some conditions require you consult your physician before you enter a sauna. If you are pregnant, have high blood pressure or heart disease; you should consult with your physician before using a sauna. If you have the symptoms of any illness, delay your use of the sauna. The extreme heat produced by the sauna will cause stress to the body. When the body is ill it is already stressed enough. The sauna will only intensify the situation. Don't drink alcoholic beverages before you enter the sauna. This increases the chance of dehydration.

Sauna Tips

  • Replenish fluids after session
  • Allow sufficient time for greater benefits
  • Begin with moderate heat, adjust the heat when necessary
  • To begin, lie on the lowest shelves and work your way up as the session goes on
  • Rest after getting out of sauna

Stretching ///

With proper stretching, recovery can be enhanced, as well as preventing stiff an sore muscles. Stretching before a workout helps to circulate blood. Stretching helps to rush nutrients to the muscles and it also allows the body time to prepare for exercise. Stretching after a workout helps to relieve the body of muscle soreness and stiffness. Stretching after exercise also helps to flush out waste products from the muscles.

A proper stretching program will have positive effects on your recovery abilities. Top-level performance cannot be achieved by training, nutrition and supplement without proper recovery. Pay close attention to factors that affect your recovery abilities and do your best to achieve optimal levels of recovery. Proper recovery can go a long way in improving your physique and performance level.