Here’s Why Treating Yourself To A Massage Is So Good For You
The first time I really felt how beneficial sports massage – or deep-tissue massage – can be for you, was at a sports event. I had a week of multi-sport races and my muscles were getting so stiff! I had to be ready to race again and again and eventually I booked myself in for a run-down. I felt so much better afterwards and it really helped with my recovery and performances going forward.
“Not only is there sufficient research to advocate deep-tissue massage for exercise, I have also seen the benefits of it within my own training regime, as well as with my experience within the physiotherapy practice,” says physiotherapist at Heavenly Spa at The Westin Cape Town, Inge Croy.
But you don’t have to wait until you get to a stage race to get yourself rubbed up. Most spas offer deep-tissue massage or sports massage therapies.
What are the benefits for active women?
“Massages can improve blood circulation, aid in better sleeping patterns, relieve body pain, reduce stretch marks and reduce stress,” explains Nicola Van Huyssteen, manager at Heavenly Spa.
Inge adds: “When active women are not finding the time to include a stretch routine in their busy schedules, this along with the lactic acid build-up increases muscle stiffness, increasing the risk of injury as well as affecting their functional activity.”
Explain the different types…
“Deep-tissue massage targets the deeper layers of your muscles, where soreness typically begins. For a sports massage, therapists will vigorously rub your entire body, kneading your muscles and increasing circulation, which can support post-workout muscle repair,” says Nicola.
“Trigger-point massage is a type of massage where, instead of working entire muscle groups, [it] focuses on specific areas where you feel the most pain. A Swedish massage is a less vigorous style and uses gentle strokes and circular motions to ease your soreness and help you relax,” she adds.
Which oils work best?
“For deep-tissue, sports and trigger-point massage, you’d use a detoxifying oil. We use Theranaka Storm Oil or Spalicious Arnica And Mint Oil. With a Swedish massage, however, you’ll make use of a more relaxing oil, like Theranaka Peace Oil or Spalicious Jasmine Flower Oil,” explains Nicola.
Are there other benefits?
“Massage can also help with relieving anxiety, digestive disorders, fibromyalgia, headaches, insomnia-related to stress, myofascial pain syndrome and soft-tissue strains or injuries,” says Nicola.
“As a physio and a runner, I highly recommend massages after competing in big races or sporting events. All my clients who train up to four to five times a week are recommended to have a sports massage due to the heavy load that exercise can have on one’s muscles. In my professional opinion, not only does massage provide a great stress release, it’s also a useful recovery modality, allowing you to return to sport sooner, [it] reduces the risk of injuries as well as limiting delayed onset of muscle stiffness (DOMS),” advises Inge.
WH Tests It…
Women’s Health editor Danielle Weakley and I went for a deep-tissue massage at Heavenly Spa and it was fantastic! The advantage of booking a massage at a spa is that you have access to the other incredible facilities, such as a heated pool, sauna and jacuzzi, all of which make for a very destressing day out.
Be sure to mention to your therapist the areas where you may be experiencing tension and if you have any injuries. One of the main things to establish from the get-go is the level of pressure you’re comfortable with. Deep-tissue massage will hurt a bit, but it isn’t supposed to be a torture session. The same goes for the massage being too gentle – you should be able to feel a difference afterwards.
As Danielle said: “After many days in row of chaturanga, my shoulders and upper back were ready for a release. And, to be honest, the views were as good for the soul as the massage itself.”
We tried the Deep Release 60-minute massage, R740, which relieves deeper-seated muscular tension.