Sports Massage is a special form of massage and is typically used before, during, and after athletic events. The purpose of the massage is to prepare the athlete for peak performance, to drain away fatigue, to relieve swelling, to reduce muscle tension, to promote flexibility and to prevent injuries.
The main purpose of sports massage therapy is to help alleviate the stress and tension which builds up in the body’s soft tissues during physical activity. Where minor injuries and lesions occur, due to overexertion and/or overuse, massage can break them down quickly and effectively. The massage will help prepare the athlete for peak performance, to drain away fatigue, to relieve swelling, to reduce muscle tension, to promote flexibility and to prevent injuries. Sports massage can help prevent those niggling injuries that so often get in the way of performance and achievement, whether a person is an athlete or a once a week jogger.
There are several key elements to sports massage. To better understand each of these, let’s look at them separately.
- Motion and Flexibility: Professional and superior athletes often overtrain and this leads to muscle rigidity. Sports massage can help relax overly tense muscles and provide additional flexibility. Used before a competition, it will relax the muscles for flexibility, improving performance.
- Shortens Recovery Time: Exercise and competition is stressful on the body. This will lead to injury if proper precautions are not taken. Sports massages are ideal to help the body deal with this stress and injury prevention. A proper massage increases blood flow and lymph fluid, both assisting in the body’s natural healing process, speeding waste removal and general health improvement. Swelling and inflammation associated with physical activity is also reduced. Scar tissue, normal from a severe injury, can be lessened with massage.
- Supply of Oxygen and Nutrients: Blood flow into muscles is vital to creating new tissue and increased strength and stamina. Massage increases blood flow for additional oxygen and nutrients.
- Helps Eliminate By-Products of Exercise: Lactic and uric acids are natural by-products of exercise. Each can be lessened with blood and lymph flow in the body and increase the waste output by a sports massage.
- Psychological Benefits: There is much to be said about psychology and sports. Many do not realize the value of a massage with sports and how a quality massage has more than just physical benefits. The body is only as strong as the mind, so having a strong mind that is relaxed and focused is a definite edge in highly competitive sports. A stressed athlete is not nearly as capable as one with a clear mind.
- Reduces Pain: A body in pain is a sign of overworked muscles and is not healthy. Massage increases blood and lymph fluid flow, thereby speeding the injury rehabilitation process. A massage also helps with pain from spasms and cramps, common with elite athletic training.