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Receiving a massage on a regular basis is not simply a luxury, but rather a long-term investment in your overall health and well-being. It also happens that massage can help you reach your fitness goals faster and more comfortably, with less risk of injury!

Recently I’ve encountered several frustrated fitness enthusiasts who were prevented from continuing their regular exercise routines by an injury. Exercise is undoubtedly imperative for optimal health, but also puts strain on our bodies.

Repeatedly contracting muscles causes microtrauma to the muscle fibers and related connective tissues. This tells the body to increase muscle tissue production in order to adapt to the physical demands you’ve put it under and to protect it from future damage from similar activity.

This is why our muscles get bigger with repeated and increased physical demands. Muscle pain and soreness are indications of this tissue damage.

Unfortunately, we tend to interpret soreness as a mark of a successful, productive workout and tell ourselves to buck up and push through any discomfort. I am excited to tell you that there is a way to reduce discomfort and increase the efficacy of your workouts: start incorporating massage into your routine!

As you continue to strain particular muscles through repeated use and heavy demand, they become tense. Chronic muscle tightness (hypertonocity) decreases flexibility, inhibits proper muscle function, leads to compensation and reduces circulation throughout these tissues. This can be painful and increases the likelihood of injury.

Massage addresses each of these issues by compressing and stretching the muscles and other soft tissues of the body. The techniques used help to break apart muscle fibers that have become hypertonic and stuck together, increase circulation and increase range of motion and flexibility. This all helps the body return to proper balance and functioning, meaning reduced pain and reduced recovery time between workouts! (Don’t even get me started on the neurological and psychological benefits! We’ll save that for another post.)

Empirical research has demonstrated that massage can significantly reduce your risk of injury and expedite recovery; meaning an overall healthier, happier you, with less interruptions in your fitness routine.

Please, don’t suffer through the pain or wait until you have suffered an injury. Take preventative measures and reward yourself for your hard work and dedication. Everyone deserves and can benefit from massage.

So, whether your goals are to build strength, increase flexibility, recover from an injury or illness or improve your overall health and well-being, massage therapy can aid in your efforts and offers a wonderful addition to your wellness routine. As one of two licensed massage therapists here at the Carlisle Family YMCA, I am excited to offer these benefits to members of the Y community!

Please feel free to approach me with any questions you may have and stay tuned for more.

Danel Berman is a Licensed Massage Therapist at the Carlisle Family YMCA.

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