Massage influences the body by mechanical stimulation to muscles by means of effleurage (stroking), friction, petrossage (kneading), and vibration. The touch can be very light or it can be deep tissue massage. For well-trained athletes, I recommend a moderate to deep touch because it is necessary to restore the muscles as fast as possible. Experienced lifters are usually in great condition to allow for a harder touch. During a massage, the pressure should increase gradually, level off, and then gradually decrease.
Receptors are located throughout the body and include: 1) skin receptors; 2) receptors of muscles and joints (proprioceptors); and 3) a receptors in the internal organs. Massage will influence all the receptors and help you to recover faster. Massage improves the flow of blood and lymph to help clear toxins like ammonia and lactic acid, and deliver more nutrients and oxygen to target tissues. It can also be used to improve your posture and lifting efficiency if used regularly. Therapeutic massage can be used to relieve tension and improve flexibility.
You can use self massage after each workout as well as massage from a trained professional. Massage doesn’t heal, they simply create a condition favorable to healing. Massage is not a quick fix but rather should be viewed as an integral part of any serious athlete’s recovery and health program.
Daryl Conant, M.Ed