After you finish your workout on leg day, you automatically know you’re in for a couple of days of serious pain, starting about an hour later. Back and shoulder day can also cause some serious pain. If you’re tired of dealing with muscle soreness, try a massage after a workout. Many lifters who normally use their massage chair right after a workout claim that it can significantly reduce the effects of delayed onset muscle soreness. But how?
Using your Massage chair after a workout can make a world of difference. It can reduce delayed onset muscle soreness by as much as thirty percent. Not only can a ten minute massage within twenty minutes after a workout help to reduce pain associated with DOMS it can also boost your mood, reduce inflammation, and increase your energy. A massage chair can also be used before your workout to quickly warm up your muscles, making them more flexible during a workout while also improving your mental focus and boosting your mood.
As you can see, using your massage chair right before or immediately after a workout can promote a better workout and can reduce muscle soreness and inflammation. Read on to learn more about the benefits of using your massage chair after a workout and how it can affect your gains.
Muscle inflammation is all part of an important balancing act that occurs in the body whenever you work out. A certain level of inflammation is needed in order to trigger a type of physiological response that makes you stronger and helps the muscle tissue to recover after exercise. However, too much inflammation can also slow down the natural repair process. The immune system creates some level of inflammation in order to heal an illness or injury. When the levels of inflammation are too high it can cause damage to healthy muscle tissue. This can lead to additional aches and pains. Even worse, if you work out again before your body has had time to repair itself it can lead to more inflammation and swelling, significantly hindering your workout efforts.
It’s not always muscle overuse that causes inflammation. Some workouts are harder than others, so each week you can expect one or two of your workouts to cause some type of inflammatory response. However, this is usually a good thing. High-impact workouts can cause small injuries that are referred to as microtraumas to the joints, connective tissue, and the muscles. These microtraumas will trigger the body to release more cytokines than usual. These cytokines will rebuild tissue cells in the tendons, ligaments, and muscles, making them more durable and stronger. This means that your body will be able to handle the next intense workout because you’re stronger. As the muscles get stronger and adjust with every workout, it’s ability to control inflammation will also get better. This means you can work out longer and harder without as much muscle breakdown and you’ll also benefit from a faster recovery time. Bottom line, your body needs inflammation in order to recover and fight infections. Small amounts of inflammation can stimulate muscle tissue, making it more resilient to damage later down the line. So, the more you exercise the more the body’s cells are able to handle inflammation and oxidation.
The Recovery Process
In order for your body to recover, there must be a careful balance between recovery and exercise. The goal for most exercise enthusiasts and athletes is to train enough to stimulate muscle growth and then back off in order to allow the body to adapt to the new growth. But for diehard lifters who find themselves in the gym more than five days a week, there’s really no time to sit it out and wait for the body to catch up. So, what’s the solution? What can the lifter or athlete do to speed up the body’s repair and recovery process?
The Power of Massage
Studies show that just ten minutes of massage right after a workout can affect two genes in the muscle cells. One gene decreases the muscle inflammation that’s caused by exercising. The effects were similar to the decrease in muscle inflammation that occurs when you take an anti-inflammatory medication. The other gene showed the production of mitochondria. The mitochondria are considered the powerhouse of cells and they use the broken down products of food and oxygen to create energy that the cells need. As your muscles become used to your workout, the number of these cells increases. A massage works to speed this process along. Other studies have shown that a massage chair can help to treat sore muscles similar to the effects of anti-inflammatory medication or hot and cold therapy, working to reduce inflammation. But unlike anti-inflammatory medication, a massage can help to speed up the muscle tissue recovery process. For these reasons, sitting in your massage chair right after a workout can be beneficial to not just the recovery process, but your gains as well. But many lifters are uncertain whether you should use a massage chair right before or right after a workout.
When to Use Your Massage Chair
When you get a massage before you work out, you’re basically stretching the muscles and warming them up. This allows for more flexibility which can equal a more effective workout. It can also help you to mentally prepare for a workout. The benefits that come with a pre-workout massage include:
- Reduced anxiety and stress
- Reduced tension in the muscles
- Improved mental focus
- Promotes relaxation
- Increased flexibility
Unlike a post-massage, a pre-workout massage should be gentle. A deep tissue massage before a workout can cause muscle tightness and soreness.
As we mentioned earlier, when you sit in your massage chair right after a workout, it can help to reduce inflammation and speed up the muscle tissue recovery time. However, in order to enjoy the effects of a post-workout massage you need to receive the massage within twenty minutes after you’ve completed your workout. If you work out at the gym, this can be almost impossible.
Research shows that an after workout massage can decrease muscle soreness by as much as thirty percent. Just a five-minute massage after a workout can:
- Decrease delayed onset muscle soreness
- Relieve stress
- Lower your blood pressure
- Promotes relaxation
- Elevates mood
- Reduces inflammation
- Boosts energy
How Often Should I use My Massage Chair After Working Out?
You can use your massage chair after each workout, for a period of ten to twenty minutes, or right before a workout. Remember, for a pre-workout massage you’ll want to use a gentle massage program in order to avoid muscle tightness and soreness. For a post-workout massage I recommend using a deep tissue program. Shiatsu chairs like the Best Massage Electric Full Body Shiatsu Massage Chair 06C specialize in deep tissue massages, although the chair also offers gentle massage programs as well. The deep tissue massages are the best option after a workout because they can stimulate the muscle tissue, improve circulation and remove any tension in the muscles. A nice rub down after a challenging massage can feel pretty amazing and can also help to reduce your chances of suffering from DOMS the next day or two after.
What is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness?
Delayed onset muscle soreness, also referred to as DOMS involves muscle weakness and pain that usually begins the day after a challenging workout. DOMS usually peak about two days later. While over time, DOMS will not be quite so bad, as your muscles get used to your workout, when it first hits you it can be so painful that it can prevent you from wanting to work out ever again. This is especially true when it comes to strength training. Delayed onset muscle soreness is caused by tiny tears in muscle tissue. As the muscles heal the pain lessens. When we try new exercises or push our bodies to the limit, these microscopic tears can occur. For some lifters, DOMS shows them that they’re making progress considering DOMS will not occur if you’re not pushing your body hard enough and if you don’t challenge your body during a workout, you’re not going to see results. DOMs can be prevented if you take it easy during a workout and slowly increase the amount of weight you lift or the length of your workouts. However, if you want serious gains then delayed onset muscle soreness will quickly become just another part of life. A massage chair can help to make this type of pain more manageable, although it cannot prevent DOMS from occurring altogether.
Can You Lift Weights After a Massage?
After a particularly tough workout, if you decide to hit the massage chair, I recommend waiting twenty-four hours before you hit the gym again. If you exercise too soon after you get a massage it can negatively impact the repair process and may even cause increased soreness. Low-impact workouts such as swimming or walking are totally fine after a massage. You should use the time after a massage to allow your body to repair itself and allow the soft tissues to adjust to the patterns that have been created by the massage. During this time you should also increase your water intake.
Are Modern Massage Chairs Designed for Users of All Sizes?
Yes. Most models will work for users of all sizes and heights, especially models that are equipped with body scan technology. Body scan will scan the user’s body and adjust the chair’s roller settings based on your height and weight, offering a custom massage that’s more effective. To learn more, click here to read my article on the best massage chairs for a short person.
Do Massages Cause Muscle Growth?
No. If you lift a lot, then a massage can help to treat and prevent injuries. At times, a massage can cause increased soreness, especially if you have a lot of knots that need to be worked out. However, a massage can also increase oxygen and improve blood flow in these muscles, while also decreasing lactic acid build up and minimizing the effects of delayed onset muscle soreness. This means you can recover faster after a challenging workout, so you can get back to the gym faster. A good massage can release nerve entrapments and trigger points, as well as realign muscle fibers and restore fascial matrix flexibility. So while a massage cannot promote muscle growth, it can allow you to hit the gym more frequently.
Do Massages Release Toxins in the body?
Yes. There are many ways that a massage can release toxins from muscle tissue. A massage will cause chemicals to be released, which will draw out toxins from the muscles. A massage can also help lymph to move around the body more efficiently. This, in turn, will assist the body in getting rid of toxins from muscle tissue. Massage can also help the body to get rid of toxins by improving blood flow throughout the body. The electrical signals in the body focus on the area that’s getting massaged. This muscle manipulation helps to get rid of waste via the lymphatic system.
Can You Customize a Massage Chair Massage?
Yes and no. Some chairs are more adjustable than others. Highly adjustable massage chairs will allow you to choose the type of massage techniques used, the length of the massage, the areas the rollers will focus on and the speed of the rollers. To learn more about how massage chairs work, click here to read the massage chairs buyer’s guide.
There are many reasons you should use your massage chair after a workout, but the biggest benefit comes in the form of a speedier recovery time. A massage will not only encourage the body to heal and repair itself at a faster rate it will also make life more bearable after a tough workout, minimizing the effects of delayed onset muscle soreness. A massage after a particularly challenging workout will help you get back in the gym faster, which is exactly what the serious lifter and athlete is looking for.