Deep Tissue Massage Therapy Perfectly Compliments Strength Training
Have you ever started a new workout routine and felt sore in the same place all the time? How did this hold you back from advancing and making the most of your weight training? The cause of the chronically sore muscles is a combination of lactic acid build up and muscular imbalance. Deep Tissue Massage Therapy is a great solution.
Whenever I go to the gym to work out I see a lot of people that need a good massage. There are many body types presenting many different conditions. I see the huge guys that need massage because their muscles are so hyper-tonic (chronically contracted), and at the opposite extreme, women over 40 that never worked out habitually throughout life and so their large back muscles and core muscles are weak, which causes low back or thoracic pain. I notice many people working with personal trainers that need Deep Tissue Massage Therapy to help them balance certain muscle groups, which would help them get more out of their training.
Lactic acid build up is the muscle soreness you feel when you start a new weight training routine or do something strenuous you don’t usually do, like kayaking or sprinting. This is the kind of sore feeling that we have all experienced, and it actually makes you feel like you did something. This lactic acid build up is common, harmless, and goes away quickly. It is easily treated with Tiger Balm, ice, and stretching. Deep Tissue Massage Therapy will help the lactic acid soreness go away more quickly too.
In relation to strength training, though, I want to talk about the other part of the soreness combination — muscular imbalance. This is not what makes you feel like you did something, but the feeling that you did something wrong. This is the painful, constrictive feeling you get between your shoulder blades when you do rows, for example. Most people experience this feeling of muscle spasm at some point in their strength training routine, and it holds them back from advancing because it is not common lactic acid soreness, but a serious muscular imbalance that can lead to injury. Balancing muscle groups increases strength and flexibility; for example, the pecs are commonly short and hyper-tonic which protracts the scapulae causing neck and upper back pain.
Deep Tissue Massage helps to balance the musculature so that the body can perform optimally. No one is perfectly symmetrical. We all have our areas in which one muscle group is elongated, and another one is shortened. For example, look in the mirror and see if one shoulder hangs lower than the other or look at yourself sideways and see if your shoulders sit in front of the body’s coronal plane. Imbalances are very common in the lower body too. Lay on your back and see if one foot naturally splays out more than the other. In addition, one leg usually is slightly shorter than the other.
There is nothing wrong with this and it is perfectly normal, but when left alone it is not optimal for the advancement of one’s strength training routine. Deep Tissue Massage Therapy will help balance the muscle groups by releasing chronically tight and constricted muscles and getting to the root of the disequilibrium. Many common factors cause muscular imbalances; for example, repetitive motions at work, incorrect postural habits, scoliosis, old injuries, and emotional holding patterns. A good massage therapist will be able to identify the areas of imbalance, release hypertonic muscles, and balance the whole group (both agonist and antagonist).
A good way to get strong is by lifting weights to work both the agonist and antagonist muscle groups for a given area. Let’s use the pectorals (chest) group and the latissimus dorsi (back) group as our example. While doing pull-downs, some people might feel a spasm as if one side of the lats were shorter than the other, like the left side goes down before the right side and is tighter. This could cause a shortening of the left side of the latissimus dorsi, and might even cause the trunk to twist slightly left, with the right pec and anterior deltoid being shortened. This can cause pain that prevents a person from doing this exercise, even though it is good under normal circumstances.
One effective treatment is to have this client lay on his right side, and for the massage therapist to lengthen the left lat and serratus anterior. The therapist also has to release tight muscle bands in the deltoid and the rotator cuff, as well as under the shoulder blade. Then, with the client supine, the massage therapist works to release tight pectorals and the anterior deltoid of the right side. In this example, the SCM and trapezium would also need attention because the entire shoulder girdle and neck area will be affected and in need of relief.
Deep Tissue Massage Therapy also hydrates the tissues, increases blood flow, and makes the fascia more open and supple, increasing the muscles’ potential for growth. All of this makes people stronger faster, makes you feel more energetic, and look fantastic. It can help you become more flexible and aware of how your body balances. It is important to get a good Deep Tissue Massage on off days so you can feel the benefits and realize that deep tissue massage is vital to your strength training routine, health and wellness.
Unfortunately, it is very difficult to fix muscular imbalances yourself. If you work out regularly and have hit a plateau, are sore too often, or get muscle spasms frequently, please call a licensed massage therapist that specializes in Deep Tissue Massage Therapy to help you.