There are numerous types of massages, but perhaps the most popular and commonly known is Swedish Massage, which was first introduced as medical gymnastics in the 19th century by Swedish Psychologist Pehr Henrick Ling. He created a system of massage, using old techniques used by ancient Greeks and Romans to enhance many physical benefits.
Others believe that Dutch practitioner Johan Georg Mezger is the true developer of the techniques of Swedish Massage. He created the French names of the techniques incorporated within this type of massage.
Massage is generally assumed to be a lavish comfort that only the wealthy can afford. This idea has been changing throughout the course of history. Presently, Swedish massage is used not only to relax the human body, but to increase the overall health of the person receiving it.
There are numerous benefits to Swedish massage for all people and particularly athletes which are as the following:
1) Dilation Of Blood Vessels:
Swedish massage helps to dilate the blood vessels, which improves circulation, which is necessary for flushing out toxins that exist throughout the body such as lactic acid which can cause problems such as swelling and muscle soreness.
It is not the actual massage that is boosting the circulation, but it aids the body to initiate its own natural healing. It also increases the amount of red blood cells, protecting the body from anaemia. For athletes, it is very important to keep the muscles healthy and in superior condition to increase performance.
Swedish massages assist in this process by improving muscle tone and helping to prevent fatigue and muscular atrophy which could result in injury. Injury is commonly caused by fatigued muscles that have become shortened (that is, tightened and strained). This type of massage has been known to actually lengthen the muscle, which reverses this problem.
2) Injury Prevention & Cleansing:
Injury prevention is imperative for athletes. Massage helps the individual to be conscious of how their body functions and what restrictions it may have.
It is also very important for athletes to keep their body cleansed of impurities, thus Swedish massage acts as a mechanical cleanser, by stimulating lymph circulation and speeding waste and toxic elimination.
As we all know, when a muscle is pushed too hard without enough water, muscle spasms can occur. Massage works to relax muscle spasms and give a relief from tension, while also providing natural body recovery.
After an intense workout, the body is depleted of essential amino acids, such as L-Glutamine. Massage can offset this depletion as well as boost the immune system. Athletes are aware of the neccessity to stay in optimal conditions regrading their health in order to be able to continue their training.
becoming ill or having to stop traning even for three days, can be detrimental to an athlete and their workout regimen. This massage provides support for the individual, not just on a physical level but on a psychological level as well.
The massage helps to stimulate a chemical reaction in the body that reduces the opportunity for the body susceptibility to colds and slower recovery time.
3) Relief From Tension & Stress:
One of the most popular reasons to schedule a massage is to relieve the amount of tension and stress that one may feel. This includes athletes! Training is difficult and requires an enormous amount of dedication and hard work.
The actual event that the athlete is participating in can push their stress level to the max which can actually lessen their performance. This is where massage comes in as a necessary tool.
By allowing the mind to relax and release inner tension, the body follows along. From my own personal experience, having a massage prior to an athletic event has not only made me feel less anxious, but it has also made me aware that I have an edge compared to the rest of my competitors.
4) Performance boost:
Pre-event massage helps to enhance performance, reduce tense muscles, augment flexibility and awareness, and also act as an injury preventer. Massage can actually boost confidence levels because of a better outlook on body image, which is very important to all people but especially those who frequently face competitions.
The body has the tendency to get so worked up from all exercising and dieting that it can forget to relax, just as you forget to relax. Massage is beneficial for this reason because it allows the body to chill out for a while and try to recover.
5) Circulatory System:
Massage increases circulation and lowers blood pressure with emphasis on elimination of metabolic wastes.
This is also effective because it lessens ischemia (reduction of blood supply to organs and/or tissues which causes muscular pain). Improvement of the lymphatic system which removes waste from the body also results in less swelling from injury.
6) Endocrine System:
-Mechanically stretches and elongates muscles
-Stimulates parasympathetic nervous system
-Reduces sensation of pain
-Helps improve weak muscles
-Supports relaxation and improves sleep
7) Muscular System:
-Alleviates muscle restriction as well as tension and stiffness
-Enhances blood circulation
-Increases flexibility and durability of muscles
-Delivers more oxygen and nutrients to the muscles which reduces muscle fatigue and soreness
8) Respiratory System:
-Stimulates slower breathing
-Breaks up mucus and other respiratory discharge in the lungs
-Allows the body to become relaxed and begin the repairing process
-If you're suffering from a cold, this is helpful because it helps you to rid your body of these toxins at a faster rate
-Can relieve colic and gas as well as constipation
-Promotes better digestion
-Relaxes body and mind
-Improves overall well-being of the individual
-Relief of inner tension and stress