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Which is Better...Massage or Stretching?

Massage and stretching are both useful ways to relax muscles, reduce tension and help with recovery after an injury. Stretching regularly increases blood flow to your muscles, especially if your muscles are stiff due to inactivity. Giving your muscles a really good stretch can stop your muscles from going into painful spasms or cramping. Massage on the other hand improves your flexibility and range of motion, keeping your joints more fluid and making them less injury prone in the first place.

Massage is basically the manipulation of muscles, ligaments and connective tissue. There are many different types of massage and techniques that can be used during a session, but when you go for a massage, this is what your therapist will be doing - working the soft tissue.

Massage can:

• 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 similarities to massage, but its main benefit is relieving the tightness and tension that’s built up in your muscles when you’ve under-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 that helps your joints to stay in alignment.

Stretching properly can:

• Improve your circulation

• Boost your nerve health – a contracted muscle around a nerve can create pressure that can constrict the blood supply to the nerve.

• Make movement easier

• Improve flexibility

Daily stretching can help to increase your flexibility, and you can feel the effects relatively soon with consistency. 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. You could even opt for a Thai massage which uses stretches and massage all in one session.

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