Massage: for a better performance
Massage is often seen as an indulgence; a nice-to-have. But many sportsmen and women believe it’s an essential component of their exercise regime, along with a well-planned diet and a disciplined fitness programme. A good massage can help you perform at your peak by preventing injuries, improving recovery times after an event and giving you the psychological edge.
Some benefits of massage for active people:
- Post-exercise massage helps your muscles recover faster by reducing inflammation and building mitochondria, the cell’s energy producers.
- Pre-exercise massage reduces anxiety and rejuvenates you, which can give you a psychological edge.
- Endorphins released during massage reduce pain and make you feel good, which can be highly motivating.
- Massage can lower your blood pressure.
There are more than 80 forms of massage. All involve manipulation of the body’s soft tissue, however different forms include unique elements.
Thai yoga massage
Also known as Nuad Boran or traditional Thai massage, this technique involves the massage therapist guiding the patient through a series of yoga postures while applying pressure along the body’s energy lines. This relieves tension, improves circulation and boosts the immune system.
The word means ‘finger pressure’ in Japanese. The technique is based on traditional Chinese medicine, which believes that illness is caused by imbalances in the body’s natural flow of energy or ‘qi’ and that massage can be used to correct this. It uses finger and palm pressure in rhythmic movements to improve the flow of qi along the body’s energy pathways. It can improve circulation, relieve stiff muscles and prevent or reduce stress.
This technique aims to heal damaged or impaired tendons and muscles. It uses either strong, deep pressure or gentle, shallow pressure, depending on the body’s needs. It can be used to treat problems such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, muscular atrophy and sports and dancing injuries.
This technique focuses on treating soft tissue pains and injuries associated specifically with exercise. It’s normally quite vigorous and while it’s not intended to relax the body, it can help reduce muscle tension. It also helps prevent injuries, relieves swelling and pain and can be used to treat injuries such as shin splints, tennis elbow and sprains.
This type of massage uses slow, forceful strokes to reach the deeper muscle layers and connective tissue and is accompanied by breathing techniques and specific movements. It aims to ‘unstick’ the muscle fibres, releasing toxins and deep tension, healing damaged muscles and relieving chronic pain.
To get the most out of your massage therapy, check the credentials of your massage therapist and let him or her know about any conditions or illnesses, injuries or unexplained pains you might have. But next time you feel a pang of guilt at indulging in a massage treatment, remember, it’s essential for your performance!
Try this simple self-massage technique to release tension and ease aches and pains in your neck and shoulders:
- Starting at the base of your skull, glide your right hand firmly downwards, from the left side of your neck all the way to your elbow and back up again. Do this a few times on each side.
- Press the fingers of your right hand up and down the left side of your neck from the base of your skull down to your shoulder. Do this a few times, then do the other side.
- Squeeze your left shoulder muscle with your right hand and slowly rotate your shoulder backwards a few times, then do the other side.
- Clench your hand into a loose fist and with a flexible wrist, pummel your shoulders.
- Finish off by gently lifting the gaze, and chin up towards the sky to stretch the front of your neck.
This article was published in the second edition of AusFitPro – a new magazine tailored to professionals in the fitness industry. Kula Yoga Director Kacey Bennett has been appointed as the Mind, Body & Soul contributor for the magazine.
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Kula Yoga has a beautiful hot yoga studio in Hawthorn, Melbourne. Kula offers ‘Hot Yoga’ classes for detoxification, dynamic vinyasa ‘Flow Yoga’ as well as a gentle ‘Light Yoga’ option. Beginners through to advanced students are welcome to all classes. Kula also provides Melbourne workplaces with group corporate yoga programs to build employee health, fitness and wellbeing. Kula Yoga offers staff a unique yoga experience to strengthen their minds and bodies. Find out more about our beneficial group yoga programs on our website www.kulayoga.com.au.