I’m often asked how the Wiggling ethos fits in with sports massage, and the short answer is, it doesn’t.
This article gives 10 reasons why sports massage is beneficial and I’d like to use it to explain how Wiggling works better.
The article starts with the Physical effects, so I’ll also start there:
Muscle tissue is constructed in a spiral, which, when muscles get tight, also tightens like the wringing out of a cloth. This prevents the fluid flowing through the blood and lymph vessels. One of the benefits of sports massage described in the article is that it creates a pumping effect to draw the fluid through the vessels. This will only provide temporary relief as the tightness of the spiral is not unwound during the sports massage process. Movement will also create this ‘pumping’ action and when that gentle movement is in multiple directions, it is common to unwind the spiral, resulting in a much longer lasting improvement.
It’s this same spiral in the muscle tissue that prevents nutrients from passing through, as the tissue permeability is reduced with the tightening of the spiral. Not only does this mean that a reduced amount of oxygen is reaching the tissue to provide energy, but the waste products like lactic acid are also prevented from leaving the tissue, resulting in a prolonged or more severe soreness after exercise. Again, sports massage will relieve this temporarily, but the multi-directional nature of Wiggling will provide much longer lasting results in this area.
Stretching is mentioned a few times in the article as a benefit of sports massage in releasing tension, improving tissue elasticity and opening micro-circulation. While sports massage may be able to stretch the tissue both lengthways and sideways, the human body is capable of moving in many more ways than this, therefore stretching the muscle tissue in many more ways than this. Wiggling takes full advantage of this natural capability, facilitating the stretching of the tissue in many different directions simultaneously. Wiggling can also achieve this with many areas of the body at once, resulting in much quicker and longer lasting results.
Scar tissue can cause severe movement restrictions and sports massage is one way of breaking this down, but the human brain is processing millions of decisions about what’s best for our bodies in every fraction of every second. The breaking down of scar tissue in isolation during the massage process may release one joint, but its release may not be beneficial to the current state of the rest of the body. Using external measures, like sports massage (or foam rolling), removes the ability of the brain to make the best decision in the context of the entire structure. The whole body movement of Wiggling uses the natural control and decision making capabilities of the brain, and if the decision is made that the scar tissue is causing a problem, it will be released.
The physiological benefits of sports massage are described in the article as being pain reduction and relaxation.
While these benefits may arise after the event, sports massages are often described as being very painful procedures. Since the natural instinct of every living creature is to move away from pain (if you’d stubbed your toe, you wouldn’t let me stand on it), it’s fighting every instinct you have to lay on a table and let someone else inflict pain on you. This creates resistance, not relaxation.
Since the Wiggling ethos is pain-free movement, none of your efforts are wasted on fighting resistance, they can all be put into creating results.
Movement is part of our DNA and according to British scientist Daniel Wolpert (cited in Ratey & Manning (2014)), “We have a brain for one reason only: to produce adaptable and complex movements”. Slow, gentle movements are profoundly comforting, which is why many Wiggling movements are instructed to be performed at the speed of rocking a baby to sleep. This promotes relaxation and anxiety reduction. Unlike sports massage, movement can be done anywhere at any time. It doesn’t cost anything and you don’t need to book an appointment, or travel to a clinic.
I’ll agree that touch is also a profound method of relaxation, so Wiggle with your partner, friend, parent, child or even your pet! You’ll probably end up laughing a lot which is another natural way to relax.
As far as creating an invigorated feeling goes, if it comes with the price tag of feeling beaten and bruised, I’d rather have a cold shower.
To find out more about Wiggling and get some movements you can do immediately, I’d like to invite you to give my FREE 5 day mini course a try. Each day you’ll be given a new movement video to follow along with, each designed to target different areas of the leg.
Thank you for reading this article, I look forward to your comments and seeing you on the inside of the mini course
One Reply to “Wiggling Vs Sports Massage”
I think that sometimes when we are switched off from our bodies , the emotional pain that is held in our tissues in the form of tension,( see John Sarno , Paul Levine and any of the work done in somatic experiencing) , the distraction of a painful massage feels beneficial in the same way people who self harm describe experiencing relief from their miseries. I agree that movement is a healthy way to release tension. Good blog Sarah.