‘Muscles are torn in the gym, fed in the kitchen and built in the bed’ is a saying I’ve heard chucked about for years and it’s not a bad way to sum up the best way to make progress. Whilst it’s our training that stimulates our body to adapt and want to become fitter it is the recovery we apply after the training that actually makes things happen.

For that reason our next series of blog posts is going to focus on everything we can do outside of the gym to work on our fitness. This weeks post is going to focus on something far too few people utilise but something that we have found makes a massive difference to our recovery – deep tissue massage. (For this we spoke to massage therapist Jemimah from JN Massage Therapy)

So what is deep tissue massage?

So pretty much everyone loves having a massage right? Well deep tissue is just a slightly more intense version. During a deep Tissue massage your therapist uses firm pressure to reach the body’s deeper muscle tissues, starting off gently but increasing during the treatment (it can be uncomfortable at times, but should not be painful). You should always let your therapist know if hurts (if the curling toes, tensed muscles and wincing hasn’t already alerted them!) They will focus on releasing knots (the lumpy crunchy bits you can feel when you squeeze a tight muscle) and may spend much of the treatment working a specific area. Tough knots tend to be in the upper back – particularly around your scapular and deltoids. Given the levels of pressure used it’s not uncommon to feel where your therapist has been working the days after a deep tissue massage, but this should ease off over the course of 48-72 hours.

What are some of the benefits?

Reduction in muscle tension, muscular pain and discomfort. Benefits are largely the result of increased local blood circulation which helps flush out waste products which have stored up in the muscle. This fresh blood flow increases oxygen and nutrient content within the muscle, which in turn can help with muscle repair and lead to a reduction in muscle tension, discomfort and soreness.

Muscles tightness irritates nerve receptors within the muscles causing feelings of pain and discomfort. Decreasing this muscular tension therefore reduces muscular pain and discomfort.

Increased range of motion, leading to enhanced performance. Reducing muscular tension and increasing localised blood flow can lead to an increase of range of motion around the associated joint. Passive joint movements are included in your treatments and can also help with this.

Improves posture. Long periods of sitting at a desk or driving can result in poor posture causing muscles to shorten and pull your joints into positions which over time can reduce function and increase the chances of over-use and repetitive strain injuries. Massage along with regular training can help to release these muscles and is a great way to counteract the negative affect working at a desk has on your posture.

Recovery/DOMS. Muscle stiffness and soreness after exercise is bviously very common. Massage can help recovery by increasing circulation to the area massaged in turn helping to flush out the toxins that build up during exercises. Reducing recovery time and improving comfort levels.

Relaxation & Sleep. A good massage will promote relaxation and reduction in physical and psychological stress levels, as well as improving sleep quantity and quality – massage releases endorphins and results in less physical discomfort – simple!

So our first bit of advice for those of you seeking to optimise your recovery, prevent injury and live your best life, get some regular deep tissue work in. Like all things that benefit your health it is worth the investment!

Next week we will look at sleep and how much your sleeping patterns really effect your recovery and fitness level!