Self-massage is becoming increasingly popular in the sports world. And with good reason it reduces fatigue, reduces the risk of injury, but also cramps and pain. But what are the other benefits of self-massage? What is it used for ? How is it practiced? We will see this in the rest of this article.
What is self massage?
The self-massage corresponds to a stretching of the fascia (» the group of tissues that encase most structures of the body(muscles, nerves, bones, blood vessels). It allows muscle relaxation. Therefore, it can be painful at first, but it must not make the pain worse and it must produce a feeling of well-being, a relaxation.
Self-massage is therefore fundamental to a recovery process, whatever your level and practice. Recovery improves progression and conditions performance. It is important in a training program!
How does it look from a muscular point of view?
When we exert more or less intense effort, the muscle fibers suffer micro tears (hence our pain). These are never properly repaired and make knots known as «trigger points».
What different techniques are there?
There are two different techniques: manual massage and massage with accessories.
– With creams, oils
– By effleurage, without intensity, with pressure
Massage with accessories : Massage alone is not always easy, so having accessories is essential.
-With back and forth or circular motions
– Allow access to inaccessible parts of the body (glutes, trapezius, etc.)
-With rollers, rubber balls, massage sticks, etc.
What are the different accessories?
– Work on an area by controlling speed and pressure
-Recommended for the legs (calves, hamstrings, quads, hamstrings) and also the lower back
-Massage highly targeted areas and deep muscle knots (trigger points)
-Recommended for the back, shoulder blades, trapezius, arch, chest and glutes
The massage roller (foam roller)
– Allows a self-massage thanks to the pressure exerted by the body weight and the more or less hard density of the roller that allows deep tissue massages. It is the weight of the body that puts pressure on the muscles.
-Recommended for Legs (Calves, Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Hamstrings), Back
What are the different manual massage techniques?
For maximum effectiveness care should be taken to apply a slow and progressive massage.
Light and relaxing technique that consists of sliding the palms flat on the skin, hands well open and supple. Walk over the same area several times.
Technique that consists of kneading a part of the body quite hard. Both hands move back and forth over the muscle. We play on the tissue in depth, which promotes blood circulation. Relieves muscle contractures, fatigue, tension.
massage with pressure
Technique that consists of stimulating the following zones with the thumb, the palm of the hand: the elbow, the knee, the vital points or certain muscle zones. Brings the circulation of life energy in the body back into balance.
Massage with percussion
Technique that consists of tapping the muscles tightly. Relaxes the muscles, promotes blood circulation, restores the vitality of the whole body.
Massage with tapping
Technique that consists of tapping the muscles with the fingertips. Fast and brisk movement to stimulate blood flow and tone muscle tissue.
Why practice self-massage?
During an effort, the body suffers trauma: broken fibers, higher body temperature, dehydration and loss of nutrients, accumulation of lactic acid, lack of oxygen, etc.
Self-massage affects tendons, ligaments, muscle fibers and has many advantages:
- reduction of pain
- Increase in serotonin (feel good hormone)
- Promotes better blood circulation
- Better Flexibility, Mobility: You will gain amplitude in everyday life and in your bodybuilding practice.
- Accelerates Recovery: The goal is to walk relaxed and not stay tense
- Boosts our progress: by fighting trigger points and poor muscle and fascial regeneration. By massaging yourself between sessions, you do something good for your tissue and make the pain go away faster. You don’t need to massage all of your muscles between sessions, just those that are having trouble recovering
- Fight pain, release contractures
- Reduce muscle knots (trigger points)
- Reduce the feeling of tiredness
How to massage yourself
You can massage yourself in different ways and with different accessories.
- First and foremost, remember to stay hydrated.
- Put yourself in a room with a moderate and comfortable temperature, lit with soft, natural light, with soft music (ideally).
- Relaxation: The muscle group to be massaged must be relaxed after exertion to avoid tension
- Massage the different areas of your body slowly for about a minute.
- go back and forth
- If you feel a pain point, stay there for twenty seconds and if the pain persists, decrease the pressure you are putting on the roller
Be careful, don’t choose the most comfortable position. In fact, self-massages are not there to be comfortable, but to relieve muscle tension,
When should you massage yourself?
- After training, but not immediately afterwards. It is better to wait a few minutes to give the body temperature time to lower and sweating to stop.
- Before a stretching session: Self-massage is a great warm-up because it increases the local temperature of our muscles, relaxing the fascia
- Never before an intense workout.
In summary, recovery is essential for an athlete. Self-massage should be an integral part of his training to make progress, regenerate his body and become more efficient.
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Article written by Fitness Together