It has long been suggested that massage therapy is good for us and that it can reduce our fatigue and increase our energy. While massage does not directly increase energy, it does reduce fatigue and often decreases the symptoms that sap our energy, resulting in our feeling better. Massage therapy has been shown to increase circulation, reduce stress, pain and depression, improved sleep and our immunity – all of which make us feel better, more energized and less fatigued!
Swedish Massage and Deep Tissue Massage
There are many different modalities of massage therapy but most are familiar with Swedish massage – which includes long, gliding strokes that improve circulation – and deep tissue massage. Deep tissue massage uses techniques such as cross-fiber friction to break up adhesions in the muscles; slow, deep strokes and pin-and-stretch techniques to lengthen and stretch muscle fibers; along with ischemic compression on trigger points to release them.
Both of these styles of massage share the same benefits to muscle, as the differences lie in the degree to which they focus on each benefit. For example, Swedish offers greater stress and pain reduction and improved sleep, while deep tissue may do more to reduce pain and muscle tension. Most massage therapists will combine these two styles to maximize the therapeutic benefit for their client by doing Swedish massage in general and using deep tissue techniques on specific areas that need work.
Another technique that has proved to be effective in aiding muscle recovery post-exercise is compression. While ischemic compression is technically what is used to release trigger points, it is done on a very small, point-specific scale intended to release the muscle by releasing the trigger point. Broad muscle ischemic compression applied to the whole muscle or muscle group soon after completion of exercise (after running or weightlifting) has been shown to improve and speed up recovery for further performance and reduce delayed onset muscle soreness.
Increase Energy By Increasing Muscle Recovery
Sports massage is essentially a collection of techniques proven to aid in the recovery of exhausted muscles, either to enable further performance or to reduce or prevent delayed onset soreness. Muscle will recover on its own as a natural process, so all we really need to do to assist this process is increase circulation, flushing out lactic acid and bringing in fresh oxygen rich blood. Swedish gliding strokes and broad muscle compression (think pumping action) all serve to increase circulation, thereby speeding the recovery of muscle tissue and performance. Research has confirmed that athletes who received massage post-exercise recovered faster and with less soreness.
Faster muscle recovery equals less fatigue.
Increase Energy By Reducing Pain
Studies have shown that massage therapy can reduce pain and fatigue both from illness and muscle use. Studies in the clinical setting have shown that massage reduced pain levels and improved function by analyzing qualitative data. Overall pain was reduced significantly and improvements in emotional well-being, relaxation, and ability to sleep were all associated with the reduction in pain. We have all experienced pain that interrupts our ability to focus and even sleep, and can understand how this results in feeling exhausted by the end of the day.
By relieving pain, massage therapy relieves fatigue and indirectly improves our energy levels.
Increase Energy By Reducing Stress and Depression
Clinical trials have shown massage therapy to alleviate depressive symptoms in general and to alleviate depression in those with fibromyalgia. There is an overall statistically significant association between receiving massage therapy and improved levels of perceived stress and depression.
As general fatigue and malaise – as well as low energy – are all associated with both stress and depression, alleviating these symptoms through the use of massage therapy, in turn, increases energy in the recipient.
Increase Energy By Improving Sleep
While over one quarter of us suffer from the occasional bad night’s sleep, almost 10% of Americans experience chronic sleep loss, known as insomnia. As a critical function, sleep impacts our mood, our ability to function mentally and make decisions. Even the success of our social interactions are affected by our quality of sleep, all of which greatly impacts our overall feelings of well-being, our energy levels and the levels of fatigue we may experience.
Research has shown that massage therapy can improve sleep quality and duration in children, cancer patients and those suffering from fibromyalgia. And it can certainly aid healthy adults who are stressed out to get a decent night’s rest!
By reducing stress and pain levels and bringing the body into a state of relaxation, many people are able to finally reach a state of healing sleep, improving energy levels overall and reducing fatigue.
Massage therapy reduces the chronic symptoms of pain, depression and sleep deprivation that that sap our energy. Massage helps us to feel better and function more efficiently.