Massage and Fitness: Two Sides of the Same Coin, MASSAGE MagazineFor those who seek a big-picture view of overall health and wellness, it is important to include the regular use of massage therapy as an integral part of true fitness. After all, fitness is not just the strength of one’s muscles, a percentage of body fat, cardiovascular power and mental clarity. Fitness also includes the health and wellness of all the body’s systems, as well as one’s mental and emotional state–and massage therapy has much to contribute in these respects.

Therefore, when it comes to creating overall fitness—fitness that is present both inside and outside the body, from head to toe—one must consider the value of massage therapy for achieving this goal. It may help to think of massage therapy and big-picture fitness as two sides of the same coin, with that coin being overall health and wellness. As you consider this notion, you should begin to see how massage therapy can serve to complement and bolster nearly any aspect of fitness.

For example, consider the common view or stereotype of fitness as a man with a lean and muscular body. This man most likely lifts weights, performs cardio sessions and eats healthy foods on a regular basis. Now, by bringing massage therapy into the equation, this man could also help his muscles and joints stay in the best possible shape, recover from tough workouts in less time and better prevent potential injuries. As you can see with this example, massage therapy and muscle building can go hand in hand to help create optimal fitness.

Another common notion of fitness might be the cardiovascular powerhouse—perhaps a long-distance marathon runner, bicyclist or other type of endurance athlete. These people work hard to build their cardiovascular systems in order to achieve faster speeds or longer periods of activity. This type of fitness typically involves repetitive sessions of cardiovascular training.

In this scenario, the benefits of bringing massage therapy into the picture are similar to the previous example, due to the fact that cardiovascular training also has an impact on the body’s muscles and joints. Fortunately, regular massage therapy sessions can help reduce the negative side effects that could come about as a result of intense cardiovascular training. For example, the woman who runs many miles nearly every day would be wise to receive massage on a consistent basis, to keep her legs and hips and entire body functioning optimally.

Essentially, one might think of massage therapy as a vital component of the rest and recovery every athlete needs in order to reach his or her maximum potential in the chosen form of fitness, whether it be lifting weights, participating in triathlons or simply maintaining the ability to move with ease and grace in order to prevent potential injury.

The bottom line is massage therapy can contribute to that big picture of fitness by keeping the body’s muscles and joints in good shape, speeding the recovery of overworked areas and helping to prevent or rehabilitate any injuries.