So far on this training trip in Thailand, I’ve had a traditional Thai massage following each Muay Thai training session. It’s a luxury I couldn’t afford back home, but this kind of soft tissue therapy is crucial for the long term quality and function of your muscle tissue.
This tissue can change in two ways, length and density. We perform stretching to affect muscle length, and deep tissue massage or foam rolling to decrease density. Foam rolling is a simple, cost effective way of performing self-massage and is something you should invest some time in.
In response to injury and overuse, muscle tissue will increase in density – forming knots or trigger points. These dense, knotted portions of muscle result in a reduced muscle length. However, stretching a muscle before foam rolling or deep tissue massage is like pulling on an elastic band with a knot in it, it will draw the knot even tighter. Before working on muscle length, first work on muscle density.
Restoring the quality of your muscle can be a relatively painful process – learn to love it. The instantaneous feeling of relaxed, free movement afterwards is fantastic, but the longer term injury prevention benefits are the real gold.
Don Heatrick is a family man from the UK, former mechanical design engineer, European Muay Thai silver medallist, former pro Thai boxer (ranked 4th in UK while aged 40-years), a Muay Thai coach, podcast host, and the go-to expert on Muay Thai performance training with over 25 years of coaching experience.
Don helps ambitious fighters and coaches take their game to the next level by bridging the gap between Strength & Conditioning, Performance Science, and Muay Thai.