Sports massage has a variety of health benefits for athletes. Sports massage may be applied before, during, and after performance. Learn why it’s a popular option for everybody from professional athletes to casual exercisers. Learn about the uses and advantages that have been demonstrated in studies.
What Is Sports Massage?
Sports Massage is a type of therapy in which soft tissues of the body are manipulated to treat muscular injuries. It focuses on muscles relevant to a specific sport. A soft tissue is any muscle, tendon, or ligament.
Sports massage began to appear in physical therapy clinics during the 1970s. It can be performed on muscles before, after, or even during an event. It works by improving blood flow and reducing tension in muscles.
How Does Sports Massage Work?
When a person exercises regularly, their muscles work harder than usual. This causes strain and can lead to muscle damage or injury. Sports massage works by stimulating blood flow to the affected areas, which enhances delivery of nutrients and oxygen for faster repair. It also reduces pain, swelling, and stiffness in affected muscles, which helps athletes perform better when it’s time to compete.
What happens during a sports massage?
Sports massage employs a variety of methods and motions. Swedish style massage, effleurage or stroking, petrissage or kneading, friction, vibration, compression, gliding, stretching and trigger points are all examples of such techniques. These movements and procedures are employed to stretch and promote blood flow in muscles, which enhances elasticity and alleviates pain.
Sequences of massage movements help prepare an athlete’s body for the demands of their sport. The primary goal is to reduce tension in the muscles, but sports massage can also improve flexibility, circulation, and enhance tissue recovery. There are several types of sports massages, depending on the intensity of pressure used, the location desired, and the time required.
Pre and Post Performance Benefits of Sports Massage
There are several benefits that can come from getting a sports massage prior to athletic events. Improved Circulation Getting a massage may improve circulation, which is important for reducing the risk of injury or muscle soreness. Relaxation Massage relaxes muscles and helps reduce stiffness in them, which is particularly helpful when applied soon before activity. Muscle Tension Relaxed muscles are also less likely to cause injury.
Better Lymphatic Drainage
Slow-flowing lymph activity increases the risk of muscle soreness and reduces the ability of the body to remove toxins. Massage improves lymph flow, which enhances recovery time
One study found that athletes who received sports massage had a decrease in heart rate and blood pressure. This suggests that massage helps relieve the stress caused by exercise.
Increased Glycogen Replenishment
Breakdown of glycogen is increased during strenuous workouts, and sports massage can increase glycogen levels after exercise. This replenishment of glycogen can enhance recovery and help athletes recover from exercise more quickly.
Athletes who get massages before performing generally report improved competitive performance. Massage may help athletes improve flexibility and reduce fatigue, allowing them to perform better.
In addition to increasing glycogen replenishment, massage enhances the process of removing toxins from muscles through improved lymphatic drainage. This can speed up recovery times after a workout or athletic event. It helps make muscles less tight and
Some sports massage techniques can improve mobility by applying gentle motion to areas of the body that are typically rigid or knotted. This is why some athletes get massages even when they aren’t experiencing muscle soreness or injury–to enhance their overall range of motion.
How often should I get a sports massage?
Muscles typically recover in one to three days, and most athletes will benefit from getting a massage before and after athletic events. Most practitioners recommend getting a sports massage once or twice per week during training season. How often an individual needs massages depends on his or her competition schedule, performance regimen, and individual needs.
The best time to get a massage is either before or after exercise, but getting one both before and after can have even more benefits. When you know when to schedule your sports massage, talk to your massage therapist about what type of pressure would be best for you during the session. If you’re not sure, a good rule of thumb is to communicate how you’re feeling that day–if your muscles are tight or sore, ask for deeper pressure. If not, lighter pressure may be more appropriate.
Similar to pre-performance benefits, getting a massage immediately following an athletic event can improve blood circulation, enhance lymphatic drainage, and reduce muscle soreness. There are many methods of post-workout massage that are helpful for athletes. Deep tissue massage is often used after workouts or games to help lengthen and relax the muscle. Some athletes benefit from a technique called myofascial release, which helps them recover from exercise by working to break up adhesions and scar tissue in the body that builds up around the fascia surrounding muscles.
Release for Chronic or Acute Injury
If you have an injury, sports massage is a great option for increasing blood circulation to the area. It can help reduce pain and increase range of motion, so you can get back to your regular activity faster. Sports massage is also a great option for people experiencing muscle soreness or tightness who are looking for an alternative treatment that doesn’t involve taking painkillers or other medications.
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Do you have an event coming up? Running your first half marathon? walking a long trail? Talk to us about how we can incorporate regular sports massage as part of your preparation.
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Frequently Asked Questions
A: No. Although you will lose weight during a fitness routine, sports massage isn’t meant to be an alternative to exercise and dieting. It’s not going to burn enough calories to replace your workout routine – but it can support you to keep active and continue moving so you do.
A: Yes. Sports massage can help relax the muscles around an injury so you experience less pain and improve your range of motion. It’s also good for people experiencing chronic tightness or discomfort in their back, neck, or shoulders. It comes down to a safe and considered approach.
Identifying any red flags or contraindications for treatment is the first thing our team will do before starting.
A: Yes. A considered sports massage by a qualified Remedial Massage therapist can help to support your treatment plan and road to recovery from injury. Techniques such as trigger point therapy, myofascial techniques and lymphatic drainage can be used as part of the treatment.
A: Sports massage is good for any type of muscle pain or inflammation you might be experiencing. Although it’s generally used by athletes to help with muscle soreness, sports massages can also be beneficial for people who are experiencing non-athletic pain around their back, neck, or shoulders.
A: Sports massages are typically less relaxing than your typical Swedish massage. They’re intended to target the specific needs of athletes, so they usually involve a lot of pressure and often include a pre- or post-massage stretching routine.
There are also specific techniques which will be used for pre- and post- event sports massages.
Pre-Event: The aim is to stimulate the muscles and nervous system to prepare them to perform. Percussive techniques like tapotements, or even jostling the muscles can help activate your body.
Post-Event: The aim is to calm the body and the nervous system from performing at the heightened level required during events.
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