Whether you spend a few hours at the gym each week or you’re a professional athlete who works out for hours every day, deep tissue massage can give you benefits that will improve your performance while protecting you from injuries. If you’re looking to become a better athlete or improve flexibility and performance, consider adding deep tissue massage to your health regimen, as you’ll likely benefit in the following three ways:

Improve Flexibility to Prevent Injuries

Several scientific studies find that deep tissue massage improves muscle flexibility. One study that tracked the hamstring flexibility of female field hockey players discovered that massage improved flexibility so much that the athletes experienced a greater range of leg motion. By increasing your range of motion, you help protect yourself from injuries in the gym or on the field.

Researchers still need to test more ideas to find the perfect types of massage for each muscle and sport. With today’s knowledge, though, it makes sense for athletes to protect themselves by getting regular massages.

Recover More Quickly From Difficult Workouts

A difficult workout can make you feel so sore that you can barely move the next day. Rest plays a crucial role in athletic achievement, but you don’t want muscle soreness to dictate when or why you take a day off. D.O.M.S. or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness happens between 24-48 hours and studies show that getting a massage shortly after an intense workout makes it less likely that you will suffer from sore muscles the following day.

Researchers have several theories that help explain why massages prevent muscles from getting sore. Some experts believe that massages reduce the production of cytokines, a type of compound that plays a key role in inflammation. With less inflammation, you experience less muscle pain and soreness from exercise.

Another theory suggests that massages breakdown lactic acid in the muscles. By breaking down lactic acid, your muscles can repair more quickly without experiencing the stress and discomfort of inflammation that causes us to experience muscle soreness.

Increase Oxygen and Blood Flow to Muscles

Every athlete relies on good blood flow to deliver oxygen, calories and nutrients to their muscles. Without good blood flow, your muscles won’t have the ability to generate the energy that they need to perform.

Deep tissue massage has been shown to improve blood flow to muscles. Ideally, this could mean that you can improve your athletic performance by enjoying a deep tissue massage.

No one knows how long the benefits of a massage last, though. Your muscles may only experience a short burst of rejuvenation during the massage, but regular massages could improve blood flow for hours or even days after your therapy.