What is Sports Massage and Who Can Benefit?
Updated: Jun 3, 2020
You may think that sports massage is primarily for gym bunnies, marathon runners or elite sports teams. Wrong! It is a great way to help all individuals with aches and pains, no matter what type of lifestyle you lead. Muscular tension, stress and fatigue can affect all of us, whether we are competitive or recreational athletes, labourers, running around after the kids all day, or stressed executives. A sports massage can target those problem areas and help relieve all of your tension and discomfort that has built up, perhaps without you even realising.
WHAT IS SPORTS MASSAGE?
Sports Massage is a type of massage therapy which utilises deep tissue techniques. A constant build-up of tension in the muscles from regular activity or repetitive postures may lead to stresses on joints, ligaments, tendons, as well as the muscles themselves. Contrary to its name, this method of massage isn’t only restricted to sports participants. It can be used to treat a wide variety of conditions, such as:
Postural related pain
Repetitive strain injuries
Golfers and tennis elbow
Muscular and joint injuries, such as sprains and strains
Massage is the most effective therapy for restoring balance to the musculoskeletal system. Each individual's experience will vary from person to person depending on what their issues are. Many people appreciate the deep treatment offered by a sports massage therapist as they can really feel those knots being ‘ironed out’.
Massage does not have to hurt to be beneficial, however as your therapist works deeper into any knots and areas of tension it will likely be a little uncomfortable. Everyone has different pain thresholds, so be sure to communicate with your therapist throughout your session if it becomes too much, or indeed if you would like more pressure. They want you to get the most out of your treatment, with their overall aim to reduce tension, not add to it! It may not be as tranquil as an aromatherapy spa session, but most importantly, it will work.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
Active or sedentary – you should find sports massage therapeutic and feel the numerous benefits! It contributes to your overall well-being, not only physically but psychologically too.
Sports massage can help prevent those niggling injuries that so often get in the way of performance and achievement, whether a person is a professional athlete or a once a week jogger. Received regularly, it will help prevent dysfunction caused by overuse. Many sports people have massage built in as part of their regular training routine. It is not a luxury, but an essential factor in helping them stay fit, healthy and performing at their optimal best.
It can also be beneficial to:
Help achieve peak performance
Ensure full range of movement and increase muscle flexibility
Improve postural and general body awareness
Reduce the likelihood of injury during exercise
Reduce swelling and inflammation, associated with an injury
Speed up the recovery process and aid rehabilitation after injury
Increase levels of relaxation and reduction in physical and psychological stress levels
Aid sleep quantity and quality
These benefits are largely the result of an increase in local blood circulation, which helps to flush out build ups of toxins and waste products, such as lactic acid, from the muscles. Blood flow also supplies them with higher levels of oxygen and nutrients, aiding muscle repair and promoting healing.
Compression techniques can also influence blood flow and nerve reflexes within the muscle, which when stimulated lead to a relaxation effect within the muscle itself.
When a muscle is tight, nerve receptors within the muscle can become irritated, leading to feelings of pain and discomfort. Reducing this tension also allows for an increase in range of movement around the associated joint, therefore improving sports performance and reducing risk of injury.
Manual massage techniques can also help to align new collagen formation within the muscle, breaking down and improving realignment of scar tissue and helping reduce the risk of re-injury.
Finally, whether this is a result of a placebo effect (thinking that there should be a change), taking time out for yourself, or from the physical reduction of pain and muscular tension; massage therapy has been found to reduce daily stress and anxiety levels. This in turn improves quality and quantity of sleep, which is essential for daily living.