What Is Sports Massage?
Sports massage is a type of massage designed for highly active people who engage in athletics. Engaging in sports is harsh on the body and can often lead to injuries in both the short and long term. Sports massage enhances performance and prolongs a sports career by helping to prevent injury, reduce pains and swelling in the body, relax the mind, increase flexibility, and dramatically improve recovery rates. Sports massage is also highly effective in aiding the rapid recovery of an athlete from an injury by encouraging greater kinesthetic awareness and in turn promoting the body’s natural immune function.
Sports massage therapy is geared toward all kinds of athletes, from professionals to joggers who are just starting out. The particulars of the sports massage technique are specific to the athlete’s activity of choice.
Aspects of sports massage therapy are gaining popularity as useful components in a balanced training regimen. Sports massage therapy can be used as a means to enhance pre-event preparation and reduce recovery time for maximum performance during training or after an event. Athletes have discovered that specially designed sports massage promotes flexibility, reduces fatigue, improves endurance, helps prevent injuries and prepares their body and mind for optimal performance.
Benefits of Sports Massage
One key benefit of sports massage therapy is the therapist’s ability to target muscle-tendon junctions. A study in the journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that even a 30-second massage improved hip-flexor range of motion. Another study conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine demonstrated a notable trend toward decreased muscle soreness in the athletes who received massage either before or after exercise. According to the American Massage Therapy Association, massage acts to improve performance, reduce pain, prevent injury, encourage focus and shorten recovery time. It basically involves two types of responses: a mechanical response as a result of the pressure and movement and a reflex response where the nerves respond to the stimulation of a massage.
For anyone participating in regular physical activity, sports massage therapy every week or two may be a great addition to your normal regimen. It’s best to talk with your massage therapy to find a plan that will work best with your schedule and level of activity.
Types of Sports Massage
As an exerciser or an athlete, you’ll benefit most from a deep tissue or sports massage. However, these types of massage may not always be comfortable.
The deep tissue massage often is suggested by massage therapists because it works on particular issues you may have, applying heavier pressure on layers of muscles and other deep tissues. Don’t expect to be comfortable throughout this massage. It’s designed to get into knots and tension the muscles may be holding. But be prepared. With their attention to soft tissue aches and pains, either type of massage can leave you feeling sore.
For a guide to the stretches you can do at home to increase the effectiveness of your massage, visit Balance Massage Therapy’s YouTube Channel. There, our team of experts gives you step-by-step instructions on how to work out problem areas at home.
Health and Fitness Magazine offers a great write-up on the benefits of massage for athletes.