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About Massage Therapy
Here is an ergogenic aid that is both accessible and quite effective - massage therapy. Although it best to have a massage therapist give you a massage, you can massage your own sore muscles if necessary. It's a shame so many athletes endure painfully sore and tight muscles, when relief is so near.
Massage is something an individual can learn by reading several books on the subject or attending workshops; however it best to have a massage therapist treat your aching muscles. There are a few basic strokes to learn: friction, pressure point, kneading, deep tissue, cross fiber and compression.
Deep friction massage rolls and stretches the muscles in a way that nothing else can. Massage loosens muscle fibers, separating them from one another so they can act freely, with more flexibility. It helps lengthen muscles shortened by the frequent and hard contractions of athletes.
It's a basic instinct throughout the animal kingdom to rub sore muscles and injured areas. The "laying of hands" is one of the world's oldest healing techniques, its successes enhanced, no doubt, by the comfort of physical contact and the placebo effect. Massage is practiced in most parts of the world, and it was elevated to an exalted position in the ancient Greeks' pursuit of excellence. Nowhere is massage as prevalent as the Orient. It has been part of Chinese medicine for thousands of years.
As early as 1200 AD, the masters of the martial art, wushu, were noted bone-setters and masseurs. A bone-setter didn't quit at reducing the fracture: he considered it his duty to restore total function to the injured part by means of massage treatments. For centuries, the Oriental martial arts teachers have practiced immediate first aid by using the hands and fingers on special points called "Judo Revival Points." Ancient Indian, Egyptian, Persian and Japanese medical literature is full of references to various kinds of massage. Hypocrites, the Greek "father of medicine," left behind prescriptions for massage. In 430 BC Hypocrites wrote, "It is necessary to rub the shoulder following reduction of a dislocated shoulder."
Massage is especially useful to individuals in these ways: speeding recovery time from injury by reducing pain and swelling; maintaining muscles in a state of relaxation and flexibility; preventing overuse injuries; reducing muscle soreness and allowing training at a higher level. Interest in this method of muscle rejuvenation is again being kindled in the United States. There is much empirical and clinical evidence that massage is beneficial for a wide variety of sports medicine treatments. Perhaps we are seeing the start of a "new wave" in which massage, like stretching, is finally receiving the serious attention it deserves as a necessary component in injury rehabilitation and sports training!