Muscle body tension refers to the condition in which muscles of the body remain semi-contracted for an extended period. Muscle tension is typically caused by the physiological effects of stress and can lead to episodes of back pain.
Stress reduction refers to various strategies that counteract this response and produce a sense of relaxation and tranquility.
What is the meaning of tension?Tension. … The noun tension has its Latin roots in tendere, which means to stretch, and tension occurs when something is stretched either physically or emotionally. Strained relations between countries can cause political tensions to rise. You can add tension to a rubber band by stretching it tight.
Manage Stress to Reduce Muscle Tension. If you’ve ever suffered from a tension headache, neck discomfort, or lower back pain, you know how much effective stress can have on the body. When we become stressed, our adrenaline rises, making us more likely to be on guard against what the body perceives as danger.
What is the cause of muscle tension? Muscle tension is typically caused by the physiological effects of stress and can lead to episodes of back pain. Stress may change the body’s nervous system by constricting blood vessels and reducing blood flow to the soft tissues, including muscles, tendons, and nerves in the back.
If you’ve ever suffered from a tension headache, neck discomfort, or lower back pain, you know how much of an effect stress can have on the body. When we become stressed, our adrenaline rises, making us more likely to be on guard against what the body perceives as danger. When this stress happens, our muscles tense up as a reflex reaction. While the body does this as a way of protecting us against injury and pain, chronic tension in reaction to stress has the opposite effect.
Chronic stress causes the body to be in a frequent state of alertness, which in turn causes our muscles to be tense and taut for extended periods of time. This can trigger other reactions in the body and may even lead to disorders or disease. These reactions may include tension headaches and migraines, a tight and tender jaw, cramps in the stomach and back, and digestive issues, among others. If not treated, the muscle tension leading to aches causes us more stress and perpetuates the cycle. It can also lead to other issues such as irritability, fatigue, and depression.
While millions of people suffer from chronic pain due to daily stresses, in some cases, the tension in our muscles may be the result of an injury. It’s important that this injury is treated properly in order to keep it from turning into a chronic condition. Some may react by avoiding physical activity for fear of pain or reinjury, however, misuse of the body only increases muscle tension and atrophy. The best way to recover from an injury is to maintain a moderate level of activity that’s been recommended by a physician. Relaxation techniques, massage, and acupuncture may also be particularly helpful during this time.
To help manage your stress, reduce muscle tension, and eliminate chronic pain, follow these five tips:
Get enough sleep: Between seven and eight hours a night is ideal for making us less vulnerable to the stress that can cause headaches and digestive issues.
Like natural endorphins?
My style of Deep Tissue Massage releases the body’s natural painkillers whereby it stimulates the release of endorphins, the morphine-like substances that the body manufactures, into the brain and nervous system….kind of like a “Runners High” or a parasympathetic state “rest and digest” of mind. Once that happens (your now in a parasympathetic state “rest and digest”) I then go to work on your injured area to break up the damaged fibrous adhesion’s which are spread randomly throughout a muscle thus increasing blood flow, oxygen, strength, flexibility, and tissue rebuilding. (This diagram link explains this process)
Book an appointment for at least 1 1/2 hours or more. Recommend 2 hr. appointments for best results and can do up to 4 hr. appointments.
Massage can reduce athletic injuries
Getting injured is every athlete’s worst fear. Injuries impair performance, delay training and conditioning schedules during recovery, are costly to treat, and, most of all, injuries hurt.
Dealing with pain and limited mobility after an injury is exhausting, frustrating, and worth the measures necessary to avoid an injury from happening.
Plus, over time, injuries take their toll on the body. Most of the time, damaged tissue heals, but when muscles are continually taxed to their max through high-performance athletics, the odds increase that an injury, especially a recurring one, will result in a permanent condition.
Massage therapy has come a long way. From spa treatment to relaxation therapy; to specialized therapies, such as sports massage and prenatal massage; and, currently, according to recent research, massage therapy is making headway in preventative medicine, such as preventing injuries in athletes.
As recently as May 2016, Oxford University research suggests that massage therapy may be beneficial for improving individuals experiencing pain. The findings state massage therapy should be offered to a patient for pain management. The study concluded that massage therapy is beneficial across various functional outcomes including anxiety and HrQoL.
Health-related quality of life (HRQoL) is a multi-dimensional concept that includes domains related to physical, mental, emotional, and social functioning.
Researchers at McMaster University reported that sports massage following an intense workout actually causes muscles to enlarge and grow new mitochondria. Mitochondria are the powerhouses of our cells and are responsible for converting nutrients into useful energy.
For an athlete, energy is everything.
The study found that deep-tissue massage increased the size and number of new mitochondria more than exercising without massage. Increasing mitochondria can improve endurance performance by increasing the rate that muscles utilize oxygen.
To the body, oxygen is everything.
The McMaster University study also found that massage therapy increases the range of motion in muscles and decreases recovery time between workouts or athletic events.
Massage for sports injuries not only concentrates on existing injuries but can also help prevent injuries. Massage before conditioning training helps to prevent injuries and should be administered after a warm-up session. Massage can also help to prevent common injuries when administered after a training session, as it helps to return the muscles to their relaxed state.
The better we feel, the better we heal. For muscles, too.
Massage is beneficial to more than muscles
Muscles might be the richest benefactors of a sports massage, but, most people report a feeling of pure relaxation, reduced anxiety, enhanced attentiveness, and improved mood following a sports massage.
Athletes may find an edge in these psychological benefits, making massage a double-duty treatment; a mind and body therapy. That’s a lot of bounce for your ounce!
Various bodies of research compiled by the National Center for Biotechnology Information indicate that massage therapy:
- Reduces heart rate.
- Lowers blood pressure.
- Reduces recovery time after an injury.
- Rehabs an injury.
- Lowers anxiety.
- Improves mood.
- Increases blood flow throughout the body, bringing vital oxygen and nutrients all over.
- Relieves muscle pain and tension.
- Improves connective tissue healing, which promotes muscle elasticity.
- Stabilizes cortisol levels (a stress hormone, similar to adrenaline).
- Improves muscle flexibility, which reduces and prevents injury.
And, as if all these benefits weren’t enough, research published in the International Journal of Neuroscience suggests that massage therapy improves the quality of sleep.
Athletes may find an edge in these psychological benefits, making massage a double-duty treatment; a mind and body therapy. … Increases blood flow throughout the body, bringing vital oxygen and nutrients all over. Relieves muscle pain and tension. Improves connective tissue healing, which promotes muscle elasticity.
Frequency of massage
The number of times an athlete must go for a message depends on muscle stress and the level of muscle fatigue.
However, it is not necessary that an athlete takes a sports massage only when in need, but they can take a sports massage just for relaxing their mind and body so they can focus on their technique and performance in a better way.
All of the above sports massage types are good for athletes. They must consult with their therapist to find out the most suitable massage type.
What’s your sport?
All you guys that train hard, play team sports, work out, do yoga, pilates, lift weights, run, swim, climb, dance, ski, surf, skate or participate in whatever sport needed to take care of those sore or injured muscles and get a massage on a regular basis. Deep tissue massage will help those sore muscles to heal faster and get rid of all those sore bumps/muscles in your body like the gal in this video. So what are you waiting for …call Nicola. I can provide you with a healing touch that not only feels fantastic but will also give you the results you are looking for! I have many different types of athlete clients and I adapt each massage session to each different body type to help heal those sore muscles so that you can keep participating in your sport.
Do you want sore bumps/muscles in your body?
Massage Therapy and the Male and Female Athlete
Some types of massage therapy are instrumental in helping athletes recover from injuries, including injuries sustained as a result of low body weight and over-exercising. Massage therapy can also help female athletes relax. Lowering levels of physical and mental stress can assist a female athlete in feeling better overall. Finally, massage therapy can help both athletes feel better about themselves. They might become more comfortable with their bodies, and learn to appreciate their strengths and athletic skills. Massage also releases endorphins, or feel-good hormones, that can replace the euphoria often caused by starving. Whole-body relaxation can also contribute to an improved sense of self when the athlete feels her life is under control, she might no longer feel the drive to focus on controlling her weight and appearance.
Athletes attest to the fact that sports massage therapy improves their performance in their chosen sport while bringing a host of other health benefits, as well. For many years now, sports massage therapy has been recognized as an important part of almost all types of sports training.
Scientific research has shown that sports massage therapy can help prevent injury, increase flexibility, improve endurance, delay the onset of fatigue and hasten recovery of athletes. When used in preparation and training before athletic events, sports massage therapy enables athletes to give peak performance in competition. Afterwards, sports massage therapy helps them recover from fatigue and heal faster in case of injury.
Any athlete or sports enthusiast can gain the same benefits from sports massage therapy. They should remember, though, to let the massage therapist know what particular sport they are involved in so that the massage therapy can be customized to the specific needs of that sport. They should also tell the massage therapist of any body parts that are giving them trouble so that these problems can be addressed properly.
Massage is Good for Athletes’ Muscles
Aug. 22, 2008 — Researchers are confirming what serious athletes have long believed: Swedish massage immediately after intense exercise helps muscles recover.
To test the validity of this common practice in the sports world, scientists did studies on a team of six rabbits. Each rabbit’s hind legs were exercised; one of each rabbit’s exercised legs was then massaged and the other was not. The massaged muscles fared better, according to the study, published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
The rabbits had their muscles moved in a way to simulate exercise. The focus was on intense eccentric exercise, which is when muscles contract and lengthen at the same time. A device forced the sedated rabbits in a repetitive motion designed to mimic how a human’s legs are exercised.
After the exercise regimen, one leg’s muscles received a mechanical treatment that was supposed to imitate Swedish massage, considered the most popular style of massage with athletes. The rabbit’s other muscle did not receive sports massage but was rested after the simulated exercise routine.
The massaged muscles recovered significantly more function and strength after the four-day trial. Also, the muscles that were not massaged had more damaged muscle fibres and more white blood cells, which can indicate inflammation. The massaged muscles weighed less than the rested muscles, suggesting the massages prevented swelling.
“There is potential that this continuing research will have huge clinical implications,” said Thomas Best, a professor of family medicine at Ohio State University and senior author of the study. “If we can define the mechanism for recovery, the translation of these findings to the clinic will dictate how much massage is needed, for how long and when it should be performed after exercise.”
SOURCES: Best, T. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 2008; vol 40. News release, Ohio State University.
Massage after Exercise may Speed Muscle Recovery – Study Finds Sports Massage has a Positive Effect
Do sports massage after intense exercise speed muscle recovery? While athletes of every kind use sports massage, the hard research into whether and how it works has been sparse. But a 2008 study by Ohio State University researchers found evidence that Swedish massage improved the time it took for the muscle to recover and the massaged muscles had less damage and less evidence of swelling and inflammation.
Massage Study Tests Muscle Recovery
The four-day study was performed on rabbits rather than humans. They were sedated and their muscles put through simulated exercise. The test group of rabbits then received simulated massage while a control group didn’t get a massage. The massage imitated Swedish massage techniques, which are the most popular for sports massage with long strokes, kneading, friction, and joint movement. After the exercise and massage, the researchers tested the muscle tissues of all of the animals. The specific muscle tested was the anterior tibialis, which in humans is the shin muscle that often complains of shin splint pain when you begin or change your walking program.
Massaged Muscles Showed Improved Recovery
The difference in strength recovery between massaged muscles was significant – 60% strength compared to 15% for the non-massaged muscles. The researchers also saw that the massaged muscles had fewer damaged muscle fibres and no sign of white blood cells present to repair muscle damage. The massaged muscles showed less sign of swelling, weighing 8% less than the non-massaged muscles.
Should You Get Sports Massage?
This study suggests there is a benefit to sports massage after a hard exercise workout. Walkers training for a half marathon or marathon may benefit from sports massage after their long workouts.
Butterfield TA, Zhao Y, Agarwal S, Haq F, Best TM. “Cyclic compressive loading facilitates recovery after eccentric exercise.” Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2008 Jul;40(7):1289-96.
A Robertson, J M Watt, S D R Galloway. “Effects of leg massage on recovery from high-intensity cycling exercise.” Br J Sports Med 2004;38:173-176.
5 Types of Massage for Athletes
There are numerous types of sports massages especially for those who are very physically active or are athletic. Sport massage techniques are tremendously beneficial to help relieve those sore, aching muscles. Check out the different types of sports massage and try them out.
- Swedish massage: This is perhaps the most common and well-known massage. A Swedish massage is great for runners, especially just before a big competition. This form of massage incorporates long, flowing strokes with varying amounts of pressure. These strokes help alleviate muscle tension while promoting blood flow. The best time to get a Swedish massage is right before a huge competition, or you can get one as a recovery tool after intense workouts. The lighter strokes are best for relieving stress and muscle tension without causing any damage to muscles. Be sure to get a good Swedish massage if you want to relax, re-energize and get pumping with energy.
- Deep tissue massage: A lot of athletes know about deep tissue massage, although it is often confused with deep pressure. Deep tissue massage works on the upper and deep tissues of the fascia and muscle. These massages usually help to focus on specific problem areas and work the entire muscle. Deep tissue massages are excellent for runners and is a great choice for those who have hard athletic training.
- Sports massage: This type of massage is more specifically-designed for very physically-active individuals, regardless of whether you’re a professional athlete or not. Sports massage integrates various types of techniques that help focus on areas that are related to your activity or sport. Athletes usually get a sports massage in order to prepare for peak performance, treating injuries and preventing injuries. Sports massages help promote blood circulation and lymphatic fluids drainage. It also helps to stretch out those sore muscles and aid the breakdown of scar tissue. Sports massages also have psychological benefits such as lowering anxiety levels.
- Active Release Technique (ART): This massage technique uses deep, specifically-applied pressure to help alleviate muscle adhesions and lower scar tissue formation. In an ART session, the therapist uses their hands to evaluate the mobility, tightness, and texture of the tissue and then proceeds to break up the muscle adhesions with the hands and improve the movement of the muscle. ART is best suitable for helping to treat a specific type of injury, especially those that have scar tissue formation that impedes the body’s ability to heal. ART therapy is especially beneficial for treating shin splints, hamstring injuries, and plantar fasciitis.
- Trigger point massage and Neuromuscular Therapy: This modality goes for knots in the muscles and areas of pain in the muscle tissue. The massage therapist uses deep pressure to alleviate the adhesions. Similar to ART massage, trigger point sports massage therapy is best suited for treating injuries. If you suffer from calf strains, hamstring injuries and IT band tightness, go for a trigger point massage therapy session. Trigger points are hyper-irritable spots in tight muscle bands that can cause muscular weakness and refer pain and tenderness to other areas of the body. In this technique, a trained massage therapist knows the common trigger point locations and their associated referral patterns and applies static pressure to help them release.
No matter which type of massage you opt for, make sure to communicate to your therapist on the areas that need to be treated and let them know how their massage and pressure application feel. Once you’ve gotten your massages, the frequency at which you choose to get your massages is up to you. There is no hard and fast rule because it all depends on how intense you train, how much you enjoy your sports massage, and your budget. If time and budget permits, a monthly or weekly massage can go a long way in the prevention of injuries before they become an issue.
What Pro Male Athletes say About Sports Massage?
For most of us, massage is the ultimate therapeutic treat that we indulge in once a month or so; to a professional athlete, massage therapy is every day and on-the-field essential.
Sports massage is a valuable component in most collegiate, professional, and Olympic training programs across the world. Athletes, trainers, and doctors recognize its value in the training room, and out on the field, for conditioning, recovery, and competitiveness.
Go behind the scenes – and oftentimes, right on the sideline – at any international sporting event and you’ll find massage therapists either working for an individual athlete, a team, or an organization. And, most sports medicine teams include massage therapists in their ranks.
Research conducted by scientists at McMaster University in Ontario shows that massage reduces inflammation and promotes the growth of new mitochondria, meaning that sports massage reduces pain, and builds and repairs muscles.
According to AMTA, research shows that massage benefits for pro athletes (or you) include:
- Reduce muscle tension
- Help athletes monitor muscle tone
- Promote relaxation
- Increase range of motion
- Decrease muscle stiffness and soreness after exercise
- Enhance athletic performance
- Help prevent injuries when massage is received regularly
Every day is game day
“Pro athletes spend the majority of the day getting themselves in tiptop shape,” says Kala Flagg, a physical therapist and certified athletic trainer who has worked with NFL players and other elite athletes. An injured pro may go to physical therapy as much as three times a day, according to Flagg. “These athletes also may have a setup at home with hot tubs and cold tubs and icing machines. They have massage therapists and one-on-one yoga instructors. Their bodies are important. They aren’t afraid to invest in them,” she said. Some teams even fine players if they miss a treatment session, she said.
Mark Allen, a six-time winner of the Hawaiian Ironman Triathlon, believes that massage was an indispensable part of his training: just as athletes need hard work to excel, they also need a massage to quicken recovery between workouts, prevent injuries and reduce stress.
Ancient medicine that’s still working today
Sports massage isn’t new. In fact, the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) states that Chinese writings dating back thousands of years describe the use of massage therapy to treat injuries and prepare for sporting events.
Records indicate its methods date back to 2700, B.C., when ancient Greek Olympians were massaged with oils, herbs, and dirt with the goal of creating a better athlete, a better competitor, a better champion. Truth is, it remains a pretty accurate view of what sports massage can do to this day, and elite athletes recognize this fact.
The elite advantage
“While professional athletes are in terrific shape, which helps when they get injured, they also have advantages rarely available to the weekend warrior: an instant medical response and a physical therapy regimen that kicks in quickly, that operates practically around the clock and that continues even after the athlete is back in the game,” said Benjamin Shaffer, an orthopedic surgeon in Bethesda who is head team physician for the Washington Capitals and assistant team physician for the Washington Wizards.
The advantage starts as soon as a player goes down. Trainers and physicians rush in with immediate care and decide whether to bring the staff massage therapist into the locker room.
Time is of the essence when treating an injury, doctors and trainers say. In contrast to the pros’ quick-response teams, most of us are stuck scrounging for an appointment with an orthopedist or waiting to schedule an MRI after an athletic injury.
“Amateur athletes go home, wrap some ice on the injury, elevate, take some pain medicine, and call the doctor in a few days if things haven’t improved,” said Jason Craig, an associate professor of physical therapy at Marymount University in Arlington, who has worked with Irish Olympic athletes. By the time an armchair athlete sees a doctor, not only may an ankle sprain still be very painful, but the delay — and what people do during that time — may also have made the injury worse.
“When our guys hurt themselves, moments after, we are treating them,” said Greg Smith, the head trainer for the Capitals.
“A cadre of professionals using electric stimulation, compression sleeves, anti-gravity treadmills, and individually tailored exercises to speed the repair of the body. These techniques and devices can mean the difference between an early return or weeks on the bench,” Shaffer said.
Elite triathlete Marco Coelho agrees: “Massage helps me avoid injury. It reduces my muscle tension and stress. Bodywork, especially massage, should be part of every athlete’s training.”
The go-to treatment of the elite athletes
Coach, speaker and nationally ranked athlete, Brad Walker, says, “Massage is one of my all-time favourite injury rehabilitation techniques. I’d even go as far as saying; it’s the most effective form of injury rehabilitation therapy for speeding up the healing process and preventing re-injury. Without it, the injured athlete rarely recovers fully.”
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, delayed soreness can begin 12-24 hours after the muscle trauma happens and massage therapy can prevent or relieve this soreness.
NBA stars and legends such as Grant Hill, Steve Nash, and Kobe Bryant, have all used sports massage as a means to stay healthy on and off the court. World Series champs, the 2005 Chicago White Sox, relied heavily on the team’s massage therapist to experience peak performance. Most NFL teams also have a massage therapist on staff. And according to Forbes, James Harrison, the famed Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker, spends around half a million dollars per year on bodywork, which includes massage therapy.
An athlete’s state of mind is almost as important as the state of their body. Sports massage can also reduce stress and anxiety, which according to the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, can heavily impact performance. The psychological effect provided to an athlete by an experience such as massage may be of importance in a non-physiological manner.
The endorphins released during massage help to decrease anxiety, provide pain relief, improve mood and enhance the athlete’s sense of well-being.
Sports such as cycling, gymnastics or golf, which require maneuvering and focusing, can be affected by experiencing a sports massage prior to the event. The relaxed, lowered-tension states promote focus and agility – qualities of the elite athlete.
Our mission here at Deep Recovery is to bring you the advantages enjoyed by elite athletes so you can relax, recover and avoid injury like a pro!
What do the Pro Females say about Sports Massage?
Name: Nancy Mason, AVP Beach Volleyball Tour Pro
Hometown: Hermosa Beach, CA.
College Attended: Indiana Un.
Presently: A top-ranked professional and one of the most experienced players on the tour who ranks 3rd among active players in domestic events. When teamed with Leanne McSorley in 2001, they handed the first-ever loss to the team of Misty May-Treanor/ Kerri Walsh.
My fitness tip for young athletes is to make sure you give as much effort to “maintenance” as you do to specific training. Take care of your body by eating properly, stretching, icing sports massage and getting plenty of rest.
Below are some quotes from athletes endorsing sports massage.
‘Regular sports massage sessions form an integral part of my preparations for competition’.
– Tegwen Malik, professional squash player.
‘Access to sports massage helps me maintain full and free range of movement’.
– Joanna Meredith, professional dancer, Diversions.
‘Having regular access to a sports masseur/soigneur is an essential part of cycle sport’.
– Julian Winn, Wales National Cycle Coach.
‘Regular sports massage sessions play a vital role keeping me free from injury’.– Matthew Hughes, Commonwealth Games badminton player.
Regular Massage can :
- Maintain the body generally in better condition.
- Prevent injuries and loss of mobility.
- Cure and restore mobility to injured muscle tissue.
- Boost performance.
- Extend the overall life of your sporting career
Physical effects of Sports Massage
- Pumping – The stroking movements in massage suck fluid through blood vessels and lymph vessels. By increasing the pressure in front of the stroke, a vacuum is created behind. This is especially important in tight or damaged muscle tissue as a tight muscle will squeeze blood out like a sponge, depriving the tissues of vital nutrients and energy to repair.
- Increased tissue permeability – Deep massage causes the pores in tissue membranes to open, enabling fluids and nutrients to pass through. This helps remove waste products such as lactic acid and encourage the muscles to take up oxygen and nutrients which help them recover quicker.
- Stretching – Massage can stretch tissues that could not be stretched in the usual methods. Bundles of muscle fibres are stretched lengthwise as well as sideways. Massage can also stretch the sheath or fascia that surrounds the muscle, so releasing any tension or pressure build up.
- Break down scar tissue – Scar tissue is the result of previous injuries or trauma and can affect muscle, tendons, and ligaments. This can lead to inflexible tissues that are prone to injury and pain.
- Improve tissue elasticity – Hard training can make tissues hard and inelastic. This is one reason why hard training may not result in improvements. Massage helps reverse this by stretching the tissues.
- Opens micro-circulation – Massage does increase blood flow to tissues, but so does exercise. What sports massage also does is open or dilate the blood vessels and by stretching them this enables nutrients to pass through more easily.
Physiological effects of sports massage
- Pain reduction – Tension and waste products in muscles can often cause pain. Massage helps reduce this in many ways including releasing the bodies endorphins.
- Relaxation – Muscles relax through heat generated, circulation and stretching.
Psychological effects of sports massage
- Anxiety reduction – through the effects mentioned above relaxation is induced and so reduces anxiety levels.
- Invigorating – if massage is done with brisk movements such as what would be done before an event then this can produce an invigorating feeling.
Great Links for - The Role of Sports Massage in Sports Performance and Rehabilitation:
*Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider.
Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended as diagnosis, treatment, or prescription of any kind. The decision to use, or not to use, any information is the sole responsibility of the reader. These statements are not expressions of legal opinion relative to the scope of practice, medical diagnosis or medical advice, nor do they represent an endorsement of any product, company or specific massage therapy technique, modality or approach. All trademarks, registered trademarks, brand names, registered brand names, logos, and company logos referenced in this post are the property of their owners.