Stretching and massage are two effective techniques that play a beneficial role in both strength training and flexibility training. Massaging a muscle, or group of muscles, immediately prior to performing stretching or strength exercises for those muscles, will increase blood flow and improve circulation, relax the muscles. After overexertion and or intense muscular activity, massage can help remove the accumulated lactic acid and relieve post-exercise soreness and painful muscle cramps.
Massage and stretching can help you achieve the following benefits:
Lengthens muscle fibers that have contracted from lack of use or excessive use
Restores flexibility to the muscles after injury
Restores muscle balance
Warms the muscles
Increases overall flexibility
The benefits of stretching can be felt throughout the body. It helps stimulate the digestive organs, reduces inflammation in joints, relieves tension, improves concentration, improves posture, and energizes the body. During active stretching you control the muscle stretch yourself, as in yoga and posing. In passive stretching, such as in massage, the therapist moves your muscle.
Massage improves the benefits of stretching by:
Allowing greater muscle stretch
Controlling the intensity of the stretch
Enabling you to relax during the stretch
A massage therapist is able to focus on specific muscles and bring the body into balance so that muscles are properly aligned. The potential for muscle damage due to stretching is reduced by a massage.
Before stretching you should warm up your muscles to prevent muscle tearing. Assistance from a massage therapist will ensure that you do not overstretch or experience pain. If you learn how to stretch properly, there is almost no chance of injury. If you get a massage, good processes stimulated by the massage are increased with continued stretching.