Sports massage is a form of bodywork geared toward participants in athletics. It is used to help prevent injuries, to prepare the body for athletic activity and maintain it in optimal condition, and to help athletes recover from workouts and injuries.
But sure anyone can benefit from a sports massage you do not have to be an athlete. Many office workers, manual labourers and those who like gardening, walking, jogging and many others can benefit.
Anyone who exercises or seeks to improve their general physical fitness may benefit from treatment - in particular those who do so less regularly.
The constant and repetitive activity, such as lifting heavy objects or sitting at a desk or all day can result in slight muscle strains or stiffness which a sports massage can relieve and assist recovery.
Benefits of sports massage:
- Improve circulation and lymphatic flow
- Assist in the removal of metabolic waste
- Increase muscle length / tone
- Remodel scar tissue when required
- Assist in mental preparation for sporting participation
If you are a sports performer, of any level, a sports specific massage can be beneficial at various stages of participation. For example:
- the conditioning / training phase
- pre and post competition
- during competition
- post travel
- injury prevention
- injury recovery
Sports massage has three basic forms:
- Pre-event massage is given shortly before an athlete competes. It consists mainly of techniques aiming to stimulate and warm the muscles and to help muscles move fluidly and to reduce tension. The part of the body being massaged varies from sport to sport, although leg and back muscles are common targets for this type of massage.
- Post-event massage is usually given 1-2 hours after the competition is over in order to give dilated blood vessels a chance to return to their normal condition. Post-event massage is light and gentle in order not to damage already stressed muscles. The goal is to speed up removal of toxic waste products and reduce swelling and it will help clear away toxins and relieve tense, stiff muscles.
- Post-event massage can be self-administered on some parts of the body such as the legs.
Maintenance massage is performed at least once a week while the athlete is in training and during the period of intense competition. It is frequently administered to the back and legs.
Sports massage can also give valuable information about the athlete's condition and the effects of their training program. Regular sports massage can help to avoid problems associated with overuse, so allowing for extra training sessions without the risk of injury or trauma.
Sports massage benefits
Physically, the pressures of massage along the flow of the lymphatic and venous systems encourages blood with oxygen and other substances (which are essential for repair and growth) to be pumped more effectively through the body. This aids the restoration of normal tissue condition. The process also facilitates the exchange of fluids and helps in the removal of waste products, such as lactic acid. Massage will also stretch muscle fibres and the fascia surrounding muscles, breaking down scar tissue and adhesions. Physiologically, massage aids in the reduction of muscle pain and enhances relaxation. Psychologically, the client will feel stimulated with a feeling of warmth and readiness to perform. Anxiety may also be relieved.