Don't let anyone tell you that getting a massage is fun. There are many real benefits of massage, and like Unstress: 21 Days of Meditation, it can be part of your personal grooming routine.
There is a caveat, however: "Massage therapy is most beneficial when you receive skilled touch," says clinical psychologist, clinical massage therapist, and yoga teacher Amy Van Buren, who practices in Fairfield, Connecticut.
"This means that, at the very least, the therapist has attended a massage school (not all of them!) And is licensed in the state in which he / she practices (not all)!" she explains.
Once you've found someone with those credentials, here's what you can earn by booking this massage.
1. Can reduce pain
“Massage can temporarily reduce the sensation of pain,” Van Buren explains. She emphasizes that you shouldn't expect the problem to be "solved".
“When the person relaxes during the massage, the perception of pain changes,” she explains, because “a relaxed nervous system is less sensitive to the sensation of pain.”
2. Can help speed up recovery
While a massage does not "fix" the problem, it can help your body speed up its natural healing process.
“Massages can help promote blood circulation as well as relieve muscle tension, which can make it a good recovery tool,” says Cody Braun, CPT, associate director of fitness at Beachbody.
“When there is a build-up of inflammation, massage can help remove inflammation and metabolic waste from muscles to speed up the recovery process,” he adds.
If you are dealing with too tight a muscle as a result of a workout, consider bringing in a sports massage therapist.
3. Can reduce anxiety and depression
“Skillful massages have been proven to affect mental state,” Van Buren explains.
It has to do with the fact that our skin and our brain / nervous system develop from the same cells. “So when you touch someone, yeah, you touch the skin, but you're really 'talking' to the nervous system and the brain,” she adds.
4. Can help sleep
Van Buren notes that there is a lot of anecdotal evidence for this that you may have experienced after an afternoon massage - but there is research on this link as well.
The American Massage Therapy Association cites 19 different studies that link massage and sleep in different populations.
5. Can make skin care more effective
Facial massages also have benefits. Facial massage appears to enhance the effectiveness of skin care products.
According to one study, using a massager in addition to an anti-wrinkle cream gave better results than the cream alone. The study looked at both wrinkles and sagging skin.
6. Can lower your blood pressure
Massage can lower blood pressure “because of the calming effects on the nervous system,” Van Buren explains. And these effects can last.
There were significant differences in blood pressure between people who did and did not receive massage even 72 hours after treatment, according to one study.
7. Can improve hair thickness
Before you get a prescription shampoo, you might want to try massage. Research suggests that massaging the scalp increases hair thickness.
This was the result for men who received 4-minute scalp massages per day for 24 weeks in one study.
A larger study yielded similar results, with over 68% of participants stating that self-massage scalp treatments stabilized or reversed their hair loss.
How long do the benefits of massage last?
Long story short, not long. “The massages are aimed at combating the effects of daily activities, which means that the benefits are temporary,” says Braun.
But he adds that you can work in that short window to achieve longer lasting results in other areas, such as using short-term increased range of motion to work on strength and mobility.
Van Buren adds that learning to change where you are - from your head to your body - can have longer lasting effects.
How often should you get massages?
Braun recommends getting a massage every two weeks "after you've put in many exhausting hours and a full workload."
Van Buren suggests listening to your body and mind and getting one when you need it.
And they say home tools can mimic some of the benefits of massage, even if they aren't a complete replacement for treatments.
Braun suggests foam rollers and trigger point tools as “more cost effective ways to add recovery time to everyday life”.
Massage tools that vibrate can even simulate some of the benefits of a more expensive massage.
But Van Buren says even rolling a tennis ball under your feet can confer some of the benefits.
There is something lost in not getting a professional massage.
Van Buren explains that our brains try to predict how something will feel - and it's easier when you work on your own muscles. Your brain has to engage more when you get a massage from someone else because it "can't quite predict what the person will do next."
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It’s not only six-pack seekers who should be paying their abs plenty of attention when they visit the gym. Strong abs are an integral part of a rock-solid core, which should be one of the goals of any sport regime.
That’s because a strong core is the foundation upon which so many other things rest – whether that’s good forme that helps to prevent lower back pain developing from sitting at a desk all day, or the mobility and strength required to excel in sports and other activities ranging all the way from athletics to zumba.
Forming a mighty midriff will also help you perform better when doing all manner of other moves in the gym. Powerhouse lifts like barbell squats and deadlifts all demand a strong core, as do agility workouts and plyometric exercises.
So the list of benefits of adding abs exercises to your gym repertoire and strengthening your core is almost endless. And who’s going to complain if you also happen to sculpt a picture-perfect six-pack at the same time ?
to help ensure you have an array of exercises suitable for your training experience to add to your abs workouts, Coach enlisted Fitness First personal trainer Luke Chamberlain and Carl Martin, personal training directeur at Equinox, for a selection of their favourite moves for beginner, intermediate and advanced gym-goers, and we’ve added some of our favourites, too.
An all-time core classic. Hold a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles while supporting yourself on your forearms and toes.
“The plank is great for beginners and there is minimal movement so less chance of getting it wrong, ” says Chamberlain.
“It’s also easy to scale – start at 20-second holds and work up towards 60 seconds. Make sure you engage your core by tilting your pelvis back slightly to flatten your lower back – a curved lower back is to be avoided. ”
Lie down with your feet flat on the ground and knees bent. Place your hands on your thighs and slowly slide them up towards your knees as you sit up.
“This does not have to be a large movement, ” says Chamberlain. “Focus on closing the distance between your ribs and hips by lifting your shoulders off the floor while maintaining contact between the ground and your lower back.
“Moving the top half up puts more emphasis on your upper abs. Start with sets of five and work towards 15. ”
“Start in a straight arm press-up place with one knee up between your elbows and only the back foot on the floor, ” says Chamberlain. “Jump the back foot off the floor and swap it with the front foot.
“Focus on pulling your stomach zones musculaires in throughout the movement to protect your spine and add more intensity. This is a great exercise for burning kcal as well as developing your abs. Start with 30 seconds of mountain climbers and work towards 60 seconds. ”
The reverse crunch is even better than the standard crunch for strengthening your abs. The move keeps your groupes musculaires under tension for a longer period and hits the tricky-to-target lower abs particularly hard.
Lie down and raise your legs so your thighs are vertical and your knees are bent at a 90° angle. Contract your abs to bring your knees to your chest and raise your hips off the floor, then slowly lower your legs back to the start.