Whether you are a professional athlete, a serious competitor, or just enjoy playing sports, taking care of your body properly can have many benefits. Competitions and serious training can wear your down and prevent your from being your best. Sports massage can be advantageous to help you compete at your highest possible level and avoid unnecessary injury.
What is Sports Massage?
Sports massage is a style of massage targeted to the needs of athletes and physically active adults. Developed in Europe during the 1920’s, sports massage was used to enhance the performance of Olympic athletes, helping them become stronger and more flexible. Since that time, advancements in techniques and the understanding of sports physiology have moved sports massage into the mainstream.
By blending several massage styles, sports massage can be used before, during, and after athletic events to enhance the performance and recovery of athletes. Sports massage can also be helpful for regular people by providing therapeutic relief of muscle stiffness and soft tissue injury resulting from strenuous exercise or injury.
If you are a competitive athlete, you should always seek a massage therapist with training to meet your specific needs. Sports massage therapists should possess advanced education in anatomy, physiology, and sports training. These foundations will enhance their understanding of the cause and treatment of injuries for various movements, as well as how to enhance performance of particular activities.
Techniques of Sports Massage
Sports massage uses the techniques from several different styles of massage to properly treat athletes. These often include Swedish massage, Shiatsu, trigger point therapy, and sometimes Chinese Tui Na massage. Every Sports massage therapist has their own preference in techniques depending upon their training and experience.
Using the correct techniques at the right time is important for sports massage:
- Before a sports event: Invigorating sports massage techniques can be used to warm and activate your body, preparing the specific muscles for action. Vibration, shaking, or drumming techniques are best employed for this use. Avoid deep tissue massage at this time to prevent injuring muscle tissue.
- After a sports event: Relaxing sports massage can be used to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, calming you down and normalizing the body. Swedish massage techniques of effleurage and petrissage should be used to smooth out the muscles; this will stimulate the circulation of blood through the tissues to remove lactic acid and other byproducts of metabolism.
- Between sports events: Restorative sports massage can be used to enhance and support training regiments and prevent injury. Massage techniques to relax muscle tension and correct muscle imbalances are used to keep you in proper condition. Trigger point releases and reciprocal inhibition techniques can be used to target specific problem areas.
- Injury rehabilitation: Corrective sports massage can be used to alleviate pain and dysfunction due to injuries. Compression of muscles and cross-fiber friction can decrease muscle spasms and break up adhesions between muscles. These deeper techniques can cause minor trauma to soft tissue that will activate the body’s natural healing response.
Benefits of Sports Massage
Here are several key benefits of Sports massage:
- Periodic sports massage can keep your body in better condition: The more relaxed your muscles are, the better flexibility and strength you will have. Maintaining proper muscle tone is important in preventing injury.
- Sports massage can help resolve old injuries: Some injuries heal on the their own, but many require treatment to return proper functioning of the muscle groups. Over time, old injuries can lead to imbalances in your body causing further problems as you overuse other muscles.
- Sports massage can enhance your ability to recover from training: By healing faster, you can build your body stronger. Physical manipulation can often do more for your body than the latest supplements or nutritional fads.
- Sports massage can help you stay active longer: Keeping your body in good condition will keep you performing longer. Sports massage can help you recover faster and speed healing time for injuries. Don’t let over-training or injuries prevent you from staying healthy for the long run.
- Sports massage can help you relax: Even though the focus is on athletic performance, sports massage can still help you relax and unwind from the stresses of daily life.