Massage has been used as a natural therapy for soft tissue injuries for thousands of years. The physical and psychological benefits of massage are well documented. It has been proven to help with injury prevention and treatment, relaxation and stress reduction as well as postural correction.

Physiological Effects of Massage

On a macrolevel, massage provides a stimulation to the circulatory system. Stroking techniques, in the venous return direction, help to remove waste substances. As blood is pushed up the vein, artial blood containing substances essential for growth and repair is drawn into the vacuum. In this way, massage can stimulate and promote tissue repair.

On a microlevel, massage can maintain and improve interstitial permeability as well as micro circulation. Pressure from a massage stroke has a stretching effect on tissue membranes with two benefits. As the membranes are stretched, the mechanical pressure can open pores and permit better chemical exchange. The breakdown and removal of lactic acid, which is essential for recovery after exercise, is greatly dependent on interstitial permeability and fluid exchange. Thus a post exercise massage can increase the speed of your recovery.

After injury, the healing process involves the initial formation of scar tissue, which can either become permanent and hinder athletic performance or be changed into fully functional soft tissue such as muscle. Massage techniques like deep friction help to break down scar tissue and minimise adhesion and fibrous tissue formation so that fibres are able to glide smoothly.

Massage can increase tissue flexibility by stretching specific areas which are difficult to mobilise with exercise or other means.

The nerves that control tissue tension allow tissues to relax as mechano-receptors, which respond to touch, become accustomed to the pressure applied during massage. The sensory inputs of warmth and touch to the central nervous system also promote relaxation during the massage and can leave a general feeling of well being afterwards. 

 Sporting Benefits

While massage can be used as a relaxation tool, it is becoming increasingly popular with amatuer and professional athletes for improving resistance to injury and a faster return to sport after injury. Regular massage may also extend the overall length of your sporting career and improve performance.