Northeast Wisconsin
  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • May 2014
Written by  Carol Baumhardt

Massage and fitness

Soothing music and soft lighting have long been associated with massage therapy. And no one denies that massage helps one relax after a long week of work. It can even provide relief to a headache. But how many people think of receiving a massage in a loud gym setting? How many would even want their body touched after a sweaty workout?

Massage and fitness go hand in hand

This is the entrance into the world of massage and fitness. The fields of massage and fitness have gone hand in hand since the beginning of the Olympics. According to P.J. Benjamin, author of “Tappan’s Handbook of Healing Massage Techniques,” during the Olympics in ancient Greece, amateur athletes were granted the benefit of a bodyworker to aid in the recovery from an event or to assist in their performance of an upcoming one.

Today, licensed massage therapists (LMTs) can be found in the sports arena alongside professional and amateur athletes. The Olympic teams travel with LMTs, professional sports teams staff LMTs to work alongside personal trainers and sports medicine doctors, and LMTs volunteer their time as marathon runners cross the finish line. LMTs are being sought out more and more for their extensive knowledge of how the body moves in order to help facilitate an athlete’s event or to help recovery from an injury sustained while in training. The athletes I am speaking about range from weekend warriors to the individuals who get paid for their skills. LMTs can help them all.

How can massage therapy help your fitness routine?

According to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), massage can help in the following ways:

  • Reduces muscle tension
  • Increases range of motion
  • Reduces swelling
  • Decreases muscle stiffness and fatigue

These are just a small handful of the benefits an athlete can gain from massage. As an athlete receives bodywork, the LMT helps the athlete become more aware of how he or she is moving on and off the field. With this awareness comes the ability to improve performance and limit injury; thus, allowing that athlete to continue doing what he or she loves!

When should you consider a massage?

A massage can benefit an athlete at any time! LMTs can be found working with an athlete on site at an event. Before an event, they might be helping to keep muscles loose, softening fascia and other connective tissue and releasing nervous tension. They are found during an event addressing a muscle spasm. LMTs are also working after an event to assist in metabolic recovery and help the muscles return to resting tone and length. Usually, all of these services are kept less than 15 minutes and are generally focused on large muscle groups.

When it is not event day, many athletes seek out an LMT to help address “trouble” spots. This type of massage is often done in a clinic setting and is typically 30-90 minutes in length. It is in the treatment room where an LMT can shine. A therapist starts to become a bit of a detective as he or she sorts through information regarding the issue or injury. After a thorough intake is completed, a therapist can choose to use a combination of many techniques to address the presenting problem. Deep tissue, myofascial, stretching and traditional Swedish massage, as well as many other techniques, are blended together to target the concern in order for that athlete to perform at his or her best.

So, if you are feeling a bit beat up from your workout, seek out an LMT and get some relief so you can continue to stay active! 


Carol Baumhardt is a Wisconsin Licensed Massage Therapist and has been practicing since 2008 in the Fox Valley area. In addition to her private practice, she is also the Massage Therapy Program Chair at Globe University-Appleton. Here, she has the ability to share her passion with those aspiring to join the profession. Visit globeuniversity.edu or call 920-364-1100 for more information.

References: “2012 Massage Therapy Industry Fact Sheet.” American Massage Therapy Association. http://amtamassage.org.

“Tappan’s Handbook of Healing Massage Techniques.” P. J. Benjamin. Pearson Education Inc. 2010.

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