Top Reasons to Make Massage Part of Your Martial Arts Practice

Martial Arts:  Massage


By Njoli Brown

About 3.6 million people actively participate in the martial arts industry in the United States each year.   Some of those people, over some short period of time.  But many others determine to make their martial practice part of their lifestyle. The fatal mistake can often be an incomplete understanding of the physical benefits of the practice along with the necessary responsibilities we have to take on in order to maintain our bodies and perhaps to grow forward.  This is where self care and, perhaps more specifically, massage comes in.

Muscles undoubtedly receive huge benefits from massage.  But did you know, an array of research supports the understanding that massage:

  • Reduces heart rate.
  • Reduces recovery time.
  • Lowers anxiety.
  • Increases blood flow throughout the body, bringing vital oxygen and nutrients all over
  • Improves connective tissue healing, which promotes muscle elasticity.
  • Stabilizes cortisol levels (a stress hormone, similar to adrenaline).
  • Improves muscle flexibility, which reduces and prevents injury.

The rewards end up being both physical and psychological, increasing our capacity to think clearly, maintain psychological balance, recover quickly and utilize our muscles to their maximum potential.  Screen Shot 2019-03-03 at 6.59.20 PM
Massage is also a tremendous support of tendon health.  We cannot isolate tendons from the rest of the physical structure.  Tendons are fairly resilient if we’ve managed to bank some muscle health. Because of the limited capacity of tendons to contract or relax, they rely on the pliability of muscle. Imagining the burden we place on them by allowing that muscle tightness to present constant tension, we can imagine how tendons under this level of stress are more prone to rip or tear.


ALL tendon problems are due to problems with the muscle. If the muscle is unhealthy or not working optimally, it’s the tendon that’s going to take the damage.  So while it’s important to keep tendons happy, it’s as important or even more important to keep the muscle and interwoven connective tissue structures happy.

Screen Shot 2019-03-03 at 6.54.33 PM
The martial artist is the human animal in need of the optimal access to his/her tools.  Vertebrate animals exploit the elastic properties of their tendons, saving metabolic energy as tendons stretch and then recoil.  Whether in the arena of sports or in a self defense practice we are constantly working to manage or energy in order to have it to draw on when most vital.  Tendons store and return elastic strain energy while losing and regaining kinetic energy. They also, recoil elastically much faster than muscles can shorten, enabling us to jump further to strike and retract with more rapidity and to change direction more quickly. This elasticity affects the control of muscles, enhancing force control.

Mental health, muscle health, tendon health.  Along with the over all sense of internal wellness, we can see there are very pragmatic reasons to make massage an essential part of our martial practice.

 

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msmbnyc

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