Sports massage is another important tool in the puzzle to help athletes keep their bodies healthy for optimal performance. Sport massage uses include aiding recovery after a big event or maintenance for proper physical function during training. Sports massage emphasizes prevention and healing of injuries to the muscles and tendons.
The important point though is that you don’t have to be an athlete to benefit from sports massage. Sports massage is also good for people with injuries, chronic pain or restricted range of motion.
The massage therapist generally concentrates on a specific problem area that you present, usually associated with some sort of sports activity, such as running, tennis, or golf.
A sports massage is a good choice if you have a specific problem—a tender knee from running, for instance. The therapist generally focuses in on the problem area—a frozen shoulder or pulled hamstring rather than giving you a full-body massage.
There are four types of sports massages:
- Pre-event sports massage: a short, stimulating massage 15-45 minutes before the event. It is directed toward the parts of the body that will be involved in the exertion. This type of massage can also be performed on a deeper more intense manner a few days before the event. This way the therapist can work on any remaining adhesions in the muscles and releasing any possible stiffness that might hinder performance. The athlete will have more time to recover from the massage and make sure the body is prepped up with freshly oxygenated blood and muscles are relaxed and ready to go in action.
- Post-event sports massage: Usually given within an hour or two of the event, to normalize the body’s tissues. Sometimes this type of massage is also recommended to be taken a day or two after especially if the event was extreme, since right after, the muscles would be too sensitive to the treatment and could result in further damage to the muscle. Once the muscles have been rested the post-event massage can be useful in increasing circulation thus providing more supply of oxygen-rich blood to fuel fatigued and damaged muscle and stimulate the removal of accumulated toxic substances within the muscles and therefore improving recovery of the athlete.
- Maintenance sports massage: The massage has to be performed on a regular basis during the training period and is important to aid quick recovery of the trained muscles and therefore help the athlete to continue training at the desired level and intensity thus ensuring the achievement of performance levels with as less injuries as possible.
- Rehabilitative sports massage: The sports massage techniques can be used to treat injuries in a manner where the healing process is aided to regenerate muscle and tissue in the correct anatomical manner. This way when the injury is healed the flexibility and range of motion of the injured area would be as close as possible to what it was prior to the injury. When done successfully the person can return to training at high intensity levels in a shorter period of time.