Benefits of Massage for Gardeners

Daffodils are blooming, the grackles are back and singing merrily from the towering pines across the street, Bright Blue Sky and Daffodil Fieldand the sun has finally shone on our part of the country long enough to effectively thaw out our lower lying soil layers. Spring brings the beginning of gardening season here in the northeast and, with this joyful and exciting time of year, the possibility for our overdoing it in enthusiastic bouts of muscular exertion. Muscles that haven’t been worked in a while are now potentially being engaged to pry and uproot over-wintering ground covers, to add soil amendments, and to thoroughly dig and overturn hitherto dormant garden beds for planting. Intensively using muscles that haven’t been consistently worked in a while can mean that some of us will be dealing with movement restricting sore muscles, stiffness and lower back pain.

Fortunately, there is therapeutic relief available from massage therapy that is tailored specifically for gardeners. Scientific research shows that massage relieves pain and stiffness, speeds recovery time and improves joint flexibility, to name just a few of its many benefits.  Massage is quite effective prior to or after a gardening session. If done just before a strenuous day of garden work, one can minimize soreness by increasing circulation to the muscles and loosening the joints. Massage is used to reduce the chance of injury –especially from those at-risk hypertonic (over strong) areas that may be prone to strain.

A few scientific studies on the use of massage in treating delayed onset muscle soreness:“Effects of Massage on Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness, Swelling, and Recovery of Muscle Function”
Smith, L.L., The Effects of Athletic Massage on Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, Creatine Kinase, and Neutrophil Count: A Preliminary Report. J. Orthop Sports Phys. Ther. 19 (2): 93-99; Feb 1994.

Original article from the British Journal of Sports Medicine:
“The Effects of Massage on Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness” report on study undertaken by the Center for Health Sciences Department of Exercise and Sport Sciences in Ithaca, New York. by J.E. Hilbert, G.A. Sforzo, and T. Swenson
(Many excellent references cited here for abstracts and article summaries that cover the physiological mechanisms present with delayed onset muscle soreness in extensive detail and other DOMS related studies that have been done.)

Massage Magazine’s translation of the above study (written more in laymen’s terms):
Massage Decreases Intensity of Delayed Soreness

“The Role Of Vibratory Massage On Treating Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness” (2004). Floris, Jan, Gerko, Pietzsch, University of Brighton, Chelsea School, Eastborne, East Sussex.

Erica Bliss Winston, a licensed massage therapist in North Carolina, has connected the range of benefits of massage for treating gardening muscle aches and soreness:

“Massage is probably used most often to ease stiffness and soreness after gardening. Massage for gardeners can speed relief from Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, those aches and spasms that show up the day after. A one hour massage is more effective at relieving soreness and stiffness than stationary rest of the same duration. It normally takes a muscle that has been stressed to a point of fatigue 48-72 hours to rest, adapt and recuperate. Massage tailored for gardening and other strenuous physical activity can reduce the recuperation time by as much as 50 percent….”

“Massage tailored to gardeners grew out of athletic massage. It differs from a relaxation (often called Swedish) massage because it is a deeper form of soft tissue treatment. Specific techniques pinpoint the areas stressed in gardening activities: the lower back, shoulders and neck, hands and forearms, and the knees.

The massage itself will be relatively fast-paced. Techniques such as compression soften the muscles and increase the circulation to speed healing. Passive joint movements lubricate and open the joints for increased flexibility. Treating specific trouble spots may include releasing trigger points to relieve soreness and return the muscle to full function. Deep pressure is really appreciated as you feel those “knots being ironed out,” as one client put it. At no time should the massage cause pain, which just triggers the muscle’s protective response and greater tightness. A feeling colloquially known as “the good hurt” may sometimes occur as the massage therapist treats a specific tense muscle, which results in an “ahhh” of relief from the client as the muscle relaxes….”

So, if you’re thinking of ways to lose your post-gardening muscle soreness, make scheduling a massage therapy session a serious consideration while choosing amongst the various options for your healing protocol. The therapies employed here at Breathe Easy Massageworks –among which include very effective muscle re-oxygenating and soreness alleviating myofascial release and deep tissue massage techniques– will be sure to rejuvenate you and improve your recovery time.

Here are some great preconditioning stretches to      

consider adding to your gardening warm-up sessions

or while out in the garden taking a break from gardening:
5 Great Yoga Stretches for Gardeners

6 Poses to Rejuvenate Your Body During the Growing Season

Gail Dubinsky, MD’s Yoga for Gardeners video previews (Excellent mini views of sample stretches!!) About Yoga for Gardeners video producer Gail Dubinsky


~ by charl7 on April 7, 2010.

2 Responses to “Benefits of Massage for Gardeners”

  1. I’m very pleased to find this site. I wanted to thank you for your time just for this wonderful read!! I definitely loved every part of it and I have you saved as a favorite to check out new stuff on your site.

  2. You’re most welcome, Australian shepherd Training. Pleased to have you ‘aboard’!

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