As an athlete, your body takes a beating. There are a number of reasons to include massage as part of your training and health care. One great reason is that it’s an excellent tool for preventing new and recurring injuries. Here are a few of the ways massage can work for you.

1. Improved balance in muscle tone and activity
Patterns of imbalance for extended periods of time may lead to injury or chronic conditions. Massage helps to prevent Injury by balancing the tone and tension of your muscles. A common occurrence of imbalance for runners is excessively tight hamstrings. In this case, the following pattern may occur:

First, Muscle Shortening – Tight hamstrings can cause the pelvis to tilt back, resulting in back pain.
Next, Underutilization of muscles – The muscles of the low back and quads are stretched and can become weak.
Then, “Knots,” or adhesions form– This is the body’s attempt to stabilize the structure.
Finally, Chronic or acute injury – The compromised structure cannot perform at its peak and is, therefore, at risk for injury.

2. Better postural awareness and body mechanics
Massage therapists can help you gain more awareness about potential areas of poor posture. They will work with you to correct the patterns of tension that are contributing to poor body mechanics and potentially suggest stretches or exercises to correct the areas of concern. Common injuries can easily be avoided when regular attention is paid to your posture.

3. Improved recovery quality and time
The main way massage helps your muscles recover from a workout or race is by encouraging fresh blood flow to the muscles. This helps by flushing out metabolic waste, which is naturally produced by cellular activity, and begin repairing damaged tissue. Some athletes have noted feeling less muscle soreness, stiffness and fatigue after receiving massage following strenuous exercise.

4. Better range of motion and flexibility
Massage helps to increase flexibility by stretching the muscle fibers and connective tissue. When there is less restriction you are able to move easier. Common injuries can be avoided if muscle tissue is toned and pliable.

By adding massage to your training and care routines, you will see short and long term benefits. You will experience less aches and pains and potentially avoid major injuries. By keeping yourself free of injury, you will be able to stay active, healthy, and happy.