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Massage: the benefits

Is massage just a bit of pampering? Or can it actually make a difference to your health or even - your sporting performance?

As far back as 400BC Aristotle claimed that massage, along with exercise, is one of the cornerstones of health. I’m sure we can all agree that massage has a significant relaxing effect on us; I know that I always feel massive benefits after a deep tissue massage, but how much of this is physiological, and how much is down to the placebo effect? Was Aristotle right? ...And, is a massage really worth the time and money?

Well, to put it simply, the answer to this question is a resounding YES! Sure I’m probably a little biased (being a Physiotherapist) but being a Physiotherapist means I can also look at things from a scientific point of view; we know that there are 11 major organ systems in the body and massage has been scientifically proven to have several positive effects on all 11 of them.

Then there are the obvious benefits I see first hand all the time, benefits on the muscular and skeletal systems such as:

  • relieving stress

  • aiding recovery

  • improving muscle tone

  • increasing flexibility

  • improving posture

  • decreasing inflammation

  • preventing injury

But there are also less obvious benefits, such as helping the digestive system eliminate waste materials, stimulating activity in liver and kidney function; the list of benefits from massage is extensive and actually rather surprising.

I don’t think it is any coincidence that Michael Phelps, the most successful Olympian in history regularly has 2 massages every day. Top athletes find massage the only way they can maintain their gruelling training schedules without picking up injuries or suffering the effects of fatigue.

As a Physiotherapist based in Manchester City Centre I regularly apply these principles with my clients undertaking rehabilitation programmes, allowing them to get back to competing in their chosen sports, whether it be a 5 a side game at the weekend or Premier League professional football.

So, there we have it. Massage is hugely beneficial, and helps the treating and preventing of injuries. And, as well as making us feel deeply relaxed after a stressful day or an intense workout, massage allows us to optimize muscle function and therefore can improve overall sporting performance.

Try having a regular massage with a qualified therapist and get ready to be amazed by the positive effects it will have on your performance, recovery and mental attitude.

Keep me informed of your progress! I’m always interested to hear your stories.

Gerry McGrann

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