In a recent study, 11 young, healthy and athletic males were put through an exhausting and strenuous workout routine-ones that the fittest would find difficult to get through-to see the effect of massage on the muscles. The researchers did find some grounds to suggest that a nice Abhyanga or a full body massage after a grueling workout session, be it Yoga, running, sports or gym, pays good dividends for faster recovery of the muscles, release of lactic acid deposition and relaxation from soreness, among other benefits.
Ayurveda recommends daily oil massage to keep the bones lubricated, increase stamina and remove muscles fatigue. An oil massage regulates Vata, increases blood circulation and supports the detoxification in the body. But one of its most important applications is in healing the muscles when muscles undergo microscopic breakage due to a new workout regime or exertion of muscles beyond what they are sued to. The human body’s immune system takes over at such times and heals the breakage internally. At such times, oil massage with natural oils prepared for the specific purpose like Shankara’s Muscle Release Oil can go a long way in releasing the pain and soreness from the muscles. The oil, a unique blend of eastern herbal essences and actives from the west like sunflower, almond, sesame, aloe vera, castor, jojoba, sweet birch, lavender, cedarwood, frankincense, devils claw, boswellia among others, is widely being used by those who are into sports, Yoga or some form of workout that works up the muscle tissues of the body.
Here are some of the benefits of a giving your body a nice full body Abhyanga massage after a workout
1. Flushes out lactic acid
After a workout, your body produces lactic acid in the muscle fibers that potentially slows down recovery. A good Abhyanga massage helps to flush out the lactic acid and other toxins that get built up in the muscles after a good workout.
Experts also suggest, a pre workout message is good to warm up your body if you are competing.
2. Loosen up your back muscles
If you have a tendency to tense up during the workout, you can go for a post work out abhyanga to loosen up your back muscles.
3. Reduce delayed onset muscle soreness
Not knowing any better, you suddenly woke up one day and decided to run 2k or when you are starting out with a new workout routine, or even generally in trying to get back in shape after a long gap, you may experience soreness and pain from muscle stiffness for hours to weeks after the very first session, which is called delayed onset muscle soreness. It is quite common among the first timers at the gym. Clinical trials in this regard suggest, a post workout massage could reduce the excruciating pain from DOMS.
4. Fewer aches and pain after a run
Studies also found out that among competitive runners, a post run massage worked better in pain reduction than other methods like icing, and stretching. But jury is still out on what kind of massage is best after running and if it is better to get a massage after or before a run.
5. Quicker muscle recovery
Ohio State University researchers found that certain type of massages could actually improve the time taken by muscles to recover. They also found out that the muscles that had been massaged were less damaged than ones that did not receive a massage. The massaged muscles also showed less signs of inflammations. Experts say, ice bathing and anti-inflammatory medication can also help manage inflammations but they may hinder the natural process of muscle repair, while massages promote the muscle repair and growth.
6. Reduced muscle heaviness
Massages also reduced muscle heaviness as the massaged set weighed 8% less than the non-massaged set of muscles.
7. Better strength recovery
Researchers have also found out the strength recovery was 60% in massaged muscles versus 15% in those that did not get a massage, showing evidence of faster and more effective recovery of muscles after a massage.
8. Studies showed massage affected 2 genes in muscle cells that contribute to inflammation reduction and increase in mitochondria production
The study mentioned right at the beginning of the article was carried out on 11 young healthy and athletic males, who were given a 10 minute massage after a very rigorous work out session. Researchers found that the massages worked on types of muscle cell genes. Given that nature has its own intelligence that helps the recovery of the body after injury or minor muscle tear which is indispensible when you are working out, one gene was responsible for reducing inflammation after working out.
9. Increase in mitochondria
The other gene was responsible for increasing the production of mitochondria, known as the powerhouse of cells where energy is produced. In the natural course of putting your body through some sort of exercise, once the muscles get used to it, the production of mitochondria increases to meet the increased requirement of energy. A massage supports this natural process.