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Massage therapy can help to decrease pain and muscle aches, reduce stress and anxiety, and promote overall wellness and relaxation.

I'm a long-distance biker and occasionally suffer from cramps. Can massage help reduce their frequency?

Terri Hosfeld (Phoenix, AZ) on Nov 14, 2011
It would depend on what type of cramping you are dealing with. My questions to you would be - Where are the cramps? Is it a "Charlie horse" type of cramp, or a dull ache? Massage will generally help the muscles feel better and alleviate cramping when it occurs. However, I'd need to ask a few more questions in order to determine whether massage would reduce their frequency. Do you stretch before and after you work out? Do you stretch until you feel mild, moderate or strong sensation? How much water do you drink? Massage will increase your circulation and flush all the toxins produced while you ride. It will expedite the healing process while relieving muscle pain. While massage would be great for you, I'd need to know more to tell you how it will affect your cramping. Send me the answers and I can give you a more definite answer.
Jonathan Liem (Monrovia, CA) on Nov 14, 2011
Short answer: maybe. If I assume correctly, you are suffering from cramps in the legs. It also depends on what's causing your cramps. If I was looking at overuse and cramping from riding hundreds of miles a day, I would start looking at several things. What seems to cause the cramps? Are they due to electrolytes imbalance, not eating enough minerals (potassium and magnesium in particular), or even a lack of macronutrients like protein? I know it may sound basic, but it helps to identify the factors contributing to the problem. Yes, massage can help. If it were me, I would look for information on PNF stretches, and how to do them on myself. PNF are not massage stretches, per se, but they can definitely help during the onset of the cramp. Massage, particularly, Myofascial Release, can help reset the muscle's "memory," so to speak. If it were me, I would look for a competent therapist that can do MFT aka MFR (myofascial therapy/release) and commit to a few sessions. While one session may result in feeling better, it is the following sessions that tend to reeducate the muscle into (hopefully) not cramping up as much. Hope this helps!
Krystina Morris (Louisville, GA) on Nov 14, 2011
Rub away the pain on a consistent basis. Massage helps your leg muscles recuperate faster and helps prevent cramping in your legs. Whether you use an electric massager or go to a professional, massage stimulates blood flow to the leg muscles and relaxes them. Massage is most beneficial after exercise.
Deborah Gilmore (Golden, CO) on Nov 14, 2011
Yes, and so will drinking water, a good diet and magnesium.
Geraldine Macinski (Sandy Hook, CT) on Nov 14, 2011
A massage before or after a long-distance event can assist muscle relaxation. I have participated in long distance biking events, and have found massage to be very therapeutic.
Geraldine Macinski (Sandy Hook, CT) on Nov 14, 2011
A massage before or after a long-distance event can assist muscle relaxation. I have participated in long distance biking events, and have found massage to be very therapeutic.
Julie LaFrano (Breckenridge, CO) on Nov 14, 2011
Keith Dougherty (, ) on Nov 14, 2011
The real answer is magnesium! Magnesium is nature's muscle relaxer. It is lost through sweat and is not as easy to obtain via diet (unlike potassium,which is very easy to replenish with diet.) I suggest magnesium to all my clientsr. I use Source Naturals Ultra-Mag as it contains 5 types of magnesium (which increases the chances of hitting receptor sites in muscle cells.) and also contains vitamin B-6, which facilitates utilization. That being said, do not underestimate the value of a quality massage.
Carin Piacente (Putnam Valley, NY) on Nov 14, 2011
Yes, it can along with magnesium and potassium. Most of the time cramps represent a chemical imbalance in your body. If you are a long distance biker, you are depleting your body of important nutrients.
Brent Sterling (Saint Petersburg, FL) on Nov 14, 2011
The answer to this question is not as easy as yes or no, because science has yet to determine why cramps happen. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, the exact cause of cramps is often difficult to identify. But several different risk factors can increase your risk of and lead to muscle cramping. These include high temperatures, your exercise level -- intense exercise is more likely to lead to cramps -- dehydration and the amount of minerals in your body. Also, people using diuretics (water pills) for the heart and high blood pressure, and people who have kidneys that aren't working properly have been known to be at higher risks for cramping. I believe that you may belong to the first group, so I will talk more about that. When a muscle is used it does one thing. It contracts. When athletes train they do the same thing over and over to create "muscle memory"which helps their performance. Muscles that contract over and over begin to think that they are supposed to be shorter and tighter. When this happens, the muscle will receive less blood flow. (Meaning, less oxygen carried to the muscle for repair and growth and more toxins and waste left behind.) One of the main goals of a massage therapist is to lengthen the muscles (especially when working with athletes) to allow oxygen-rich blood to reach all of the fibers. This will aid in recovery from workouts, less time for the healing process if injured, less fatigue during events, stronger, more elastic muscle fibers that are less prone to be injured. I could go on and on. But, will massage reduce the frequency of cramps? I would love to say yes, but I do not have scientific studies to back me up, and like many things in life, nothing is ever quite that simple. Studies show that cramps are more about chemistry than anything else. You work out and sweat. When you sweat you lose electrolytes. (Electrolytes are minerals that the body uses to send electrical messages throughout the body.) Magnesium, potassium, calcium and sodium are some of the most important electrolytes in the fight against cramping. Everyone has heard or been told to eat a banana for potassium to fight cramps. Even though that is good advice and can help, research is showing magnesium not only assists in preventing the frequency of cramps, it is useful in both strength and endurance training. Check out an article called Magnesium: The Multi-Purpose Mineral by Rehan Jalali).This particular article states that magnesium and calcium compete for absorption and should be taken separately. I have heard others say to take them together. Regardless, stay away from the inorganic forms of supplements. What type of therapy/therapist should you look for? There are many different therapies out there with many more therapists who will put their own twist on a modality to suit their personality. So who do you go to? In your case I would suggest a therapist that is knowledgeable in sports massage, neuromuscular and/or myofascial release techniques, or a clinical/medical massage therapist. I can recommend these modalities because I am certified in each and know the specific benefits of them. There may be others and I encourage you to ask around. Make sure your therapist has a plan with identifiable goals with timelines that the both of you set. For example, this would most likely be my treatment plan for you if you were having frequent and severe cramping in the legs. First week, a postural assessment and three 30 minute massages with a little focus on the illiopsoas (core muscle), glutes and piriformis muscles. Then more attention to the legs, using basic massage strokes and stretching techniques to gradually lengthen the muscles and get good oxygenated blood to them so they can start healing. Second week, two 1 hour sessions, using more advanced techniques to work out any lingering issues and to give the entire body a chance to relax and share in the healing process. Third week, another postural assessment and, if all is within normal ranges, a weekly hour long session for maintenance and relaxing. In my experience, with regular massage in addition to healthy nutrition, you should definitely notice a decrease in the frequency and severity of cramping muscles. Remember, everyone is different. Not everyone will respond the same way to a particular style of massage. The more techniques your massage therapist has to work with, the better he or she will be able to cater your treatments to your needs. Brent Sterling, LMT St Petersburg, FL * Read more: **Article:
Joseph DeBoo (Naperville, IL) on Nov 14, 2011
Yes, massage therapy can assist in reducing the frequency of cramps and spasms. Through the use of various techniques, stretching, and body movement, massage therapy can help in the rehabilitation of the muscles and the cramps that inhibit that process to take place. The other side of the coin is that the client must follow through with the exercises given and take a look at their diet. Cramps can also take place because the homeostatic environment within the body is off due to lack of trace elements or essential minerals. For example, vitamins are the catalyst for many of the chemical processes or functions that take place in the body. Potassium(K) is one of those chemical. The byproducts of intercellular respiration are many including heat and lactic acid as well as sodium, which goes out through the pores in the dermis. If (K) is missing then cramping is possible and with the constant contractions that take place in the performance of your athletic discipline it is imparative that athlete remain hydrated to allow those functions to happen and replaces what was lost. Incorporating sports massage, pre-event and post-event, but it is the maintanence, the work that is done in the office that helps and enhances getting those muscles back into shape. Remember this: self-image and success go hand in hand.
Mark Carlson (Costa Mesa, CA) on Nov 14, 2011
Yes. The best thing you can do is sip water all day and night long to properly hydrate your muscles and get ART, PNF and deep tissue massage. Also magnesium supplements such as natural calm will help immensely by regulating your calcium intake level back to a normal level and provide magnesium for your body. There simply is not enough magnesium in food anymore. Once your electrolytes, hydration, and muscle fibers are in order cramps will be a thing of the past.
Tonya Kostenko (Manhattan, TX) on Nov 14, 2011
There are a few different things that can be considered to determine the source of your muscle cramping such as: proper hydration, mineral deficiency, fatigue from over-use, weakness in supporting muscle structures. When the muscle is in a state of involuntary sustained contraction (cramping), there is a lack of blood flow to the affected tissue. Massage can manually stimulate blood flow, increasing circulation and oxygenating the muscle fibers. If your occasional cramps are due simply to excessive use and fatigue, receiving regular massage can most definitely reduce their frequency.
James Delgadillo (Memphis, TN) on Nov 14, 2011
Massage is very effective in increasing circulation in the muscle tissue and bringing relief to the painful cramping. One of the most effective techniques is using reciprocal inhibition to activate the opposing muscle group, forcing the cramping muscle to relax. An ounce of prevention....Stay well hydrated, stretch before and after exercise, train gradually, and be aware of the need to balance electrolytes.
David Zimmer (New York, NY) on Nov 14, 2011
I gave volunteer massages at the end of a couple of NYC Marathons and everybody cramped. My solution was counter-intuitive. There are protocols utilizing antagonist muscle groups, but I found them to cause new cramps. I used ice and pressure and plenty of hydration. Drink water galore and press ice bags against the cramping muscles until the spasms subside. Then get the massage.
Bharat Kalra (Wheaton, IL) on Dec 30, 2011
One of the reasons of cramps is poor blood circulation and shortage of water in body. Of-course massage can help. Epsum salt bath. Hot water(tolerable)tub-add 1 pound of of Epsum Salt. Sit in it neck deep for 20 to 30 minutes. Ones a week or fortnight. Meanwhile stop abusing your body because your body is telling you something.
Peter Proto (Meriden, CT) on Dec 30, 2011
sure but check oyur water, salt, and pataseum intake
Christine Gross (Grand Rapids, MI) on Dec 10, 2011
Hello: Good for you and yes massage can help a lot as well as stretching out before and after. Drink more fluids and eat bananas, make sure you are getting enough calcium and potassium.
Brian Wah (Herndon, VA) on Dec 10, 2011
Of course!
Jennie Mison (Philadelphia, PA) on Jun 4, 2012
Cramps are usually the result of an electrolyte imbalance in the body, and in larger muscle groups - specifically sodium and potassium imbalances resulting from over-exertion, sweating or too little fluid and electrolyte in the body before the exercise (this is a simplified explanation). An electrolyte fortified drink like a sports drink or coconut water will help with cramps but the best way to eliminate them is to prevent them from happening in the first place. Massage will NOT help you with CRAMPS under these conditions. (I am assuming you get the cramps during biking or immediately after your ride. Cramps at any other time will require a visit to your doctor to identify possible causes)
Paula Reeder (Katy, TX) on Nov 19, 2011
I believe that massage therapy would provide temporary relief, but most likely your cramps are caused by a mineral deficiency or possibly dehydration.
Kimberly Deane (Media, PA) on Nov 14, 2011
Yes absolutely! I have a client who is a long distance biker and we work on her quads regularly to help reduce pain and cramping. When the muscles are overworked they often can not fully release with just stretching. Massage is often very needed to help the muscles regain their optimal performance and to also prevent injury expecially in the hip and knee joints.