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Massage Therapy

The Rub on Massage

By Denis Faye
From the Million Dollar Body Club - Join Today and Workout to Win!

Is there no luxury on the road to fitness? The Coke and Fritos snacks? Gone. The hours spent on the couch watching Twilight Zone marathons? Finito. The candies, cookies, and ice cream? Done, over, kaput.

But past the sweating and grunting and celery, there is one thing you are allowed. In fact, it's a luxury you're actually encouraged to seek out: massage.

The most obvious benefit of massage is stress reduction. It's a tough world out there. A good rubdown can help both your body and mind face it. Furthermore, the more stressed-out you are, the more likely you are to succumb to illness. An obvious example of this is herpes. While the ailment itself is a virus, the sores are brought on by stress.

But the benefits of massage go even further than that. Over the years, researchers have found massage to be beneficial in treating everything from asthma to post-traumatic stress disorder, back pain to eating disorders, cancer to juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.

For athletes, including you Beachbody athletes, the soft-tissue manipulation aspect of massage promotes blood circulation, which, in turn, revitalizes your muscles and leads to faster recovery.

With this in mind, it's important to remember that massage won't do you much good immediately after exercise. Your heart's pumping and your blood's flowing just fine. It's not until two to six hours after a workout that a massage benefits you by getting that blood flowing again.

There are hundreds of types of massage, all with different benefits. Probably the best known in the United States is Swedish massage. Its kneading and long strokes move in the same direction as the blood flowing to the heart and have the primary purpose of relaxation through improving oxygen flow in the blood and releasing toxins from the muscles.

Another well-known form of massage is Shiatsu, one of the many Asian acupressure techniques. Shiatsu comes from Japan and literally means "finger pressure." It's done by pushing a series of pressure points, similar to acupuncture, to promote chi, or life energy, flow. Although it can benefit muscles, it's more intended as a healing massage for just about any ailment.

For the more masochistic, there's deep-tissue massage. As its name indicates, deep-tissue massage is a deeper, slower massage. It works against the grain of muscles to relieve chronic tension.

Similar to deep-tissue work in application, sports massage speeds muscle recovery, and is an excellent treatment for minor injuries such as strains. Every athlete, professional or not, should add this method to their fitness regimen.

Although it's nice to get a proper massage therapist to work your aching muscles, self-massage is also an excellent tool. While you and I don't have the expertise of a professional, we certainly know what hurts and what feels good on our own bodies. Rubbing that aching calf for five minutes can go a long way towards recovery. You can use long strokes in the direction of your muscles and also shorter strokes that work across your muscle fibers. Either way, when you actively work your muscles, you create better circulation and speed up the healing process. So next time you're sitting in front of the boob tube, maybe a savory snack isn't such a good ideabut giving yourself a much-deserved rub certainly is.

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MEET COACH
RICHARD DAFTER

I am a full time Beachbody Coach. I motivate and guide close to 2,500 Club members and head a team of 11 Beachbody Coaches who are all committed to helping you reach your goals. Before joining BeachBody, I was a certified personal trainer for more than a dozen years and have been a running coach for over 20 years. Continued...

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