Massage and stretching are both helpful ways to keep your muscles relaxed, reduce tension and aide recovery after an injury. Stretching helps to get the blood flowing to your muscles, which is great if you’ve injured yourself, or if your muscles are stiff because they’ve contracted due to inactivity or overuse.
Regular massage improves your flexibility and range of motion, keeping your joints more fluid and making them less injury prone in the first place.
Here is a very simple explanation of the differences between massage and stretches - and how they work together to promote muscle and joint health.
What is a massage? Well, stripped right down, massage is simply a word that’s used to describe the manual manipulation of muscles, ligaments and connective tissue. Of course there are lots of different types of massage, and techniques that are suitable for different things, but when you go for a massage, this is what your therapist will be doing.
What’s massage good for?
We love a massage for general well being, but medically massage is recognized for more than just making you feel good.
- Help strained muscles to heal faster
- Reduce swelling and scar tissue if you’re injured
- Relieve stiffness and tension in your muscles
- Reduce feelings of stress, anxiety and fatigue
Stretching does have a lot of similarities to massage, but its main benefit is to relieve the tightness and tension that’s built up in your muscles when you’ve used (and over-used) them. Having a really good, effective stretch can increase the blood flow to your muscles, and this leads to a better range of motion.
What’s stretching good for?
Stretching properly can:
- Improve your circulation
- Boost your nerve health – a contracted muscle around a nerve
- Make movement easier
- Improve flexibility
Daily stretching – to a point where you can just feel it pulling on your muscles - helps to increase your flexibility, and reduce pain. You can feel the effects of a good stretching routine in a matter of a few weeks. I will teach you, my client (if you are interested) self-care stretches to do at home based on your areas of concern. Enjoying a regular massage helps to keep your body relaxed and flexible. Massage can release trigger points and muscles in spasm, making your stretching routine even more effective.
At ‘living well’ I generally use a combination of stretching and massage all in one session to give your muscles and tendons a thorough workout.