What is Sports Massage?
Sports massage is a style of massage targeted to the needs of athletes and physically active adults. Developed in Europe during the 1920’s, sports massage was used to enhance the performance of Olympic athletes, helping them become stronger and more flexible. Since that time, advancements in techniques and the understanding of sports physiology have moved sports massage into the mainstream. By blending several massage styles, sports massage can be used before, during, and after athletic events to enhance the performance and recovery of athletes. Massage can also be helpful for regular people by providing therapeutic relief of muscle stiffness and soft tissue injury resulting from strenuous exercise or activity.
If you are a competitive athlete, you should always seek a massage therapist with training to meet your specific needs. Because of the recurring stress, overload, and trauma to the body, athletes often need specific recovery work in their maintenance sessions. Sports massage therapists should possess advanced education in anatomy, physiology, understanding the biomechanics of specific sports, trigger points, and myofascial release. These foundations will enhance their understanding of the cause and treatment of injuries for specific sports and fitness activities, as well as how to enhance performance and adapt their massage sessions accordingly.
Techniques of Sports Massage
Sports massage uses the techniques from several different styles of massage to properly treat athletes. These often include Swedish massage, Shiatsu, trigger point therapy, active release therapy, and myofascial release massage. Every Sports massage therapist has their own preference in techniques depending upon their training and experience.
Using the correct techniques at the right time is important for sports massage:
- Recovery: Addresses the tight, stiff, and sore muscles that often accompany exercise and helps the body’s capacity to heal minor tissue damage.
- Injury rehabilitation: Corrective sports massage can be used to alleviate pain and dysfunction due to injuries such as muscle tension and inflexibility, muscle soreness, trigger points, edema, tendinitis, strains, sprains, and general stress. Deep friction massage is especially useful in development of healthy mobile scar tissue, decrease muscle spasms and free up adhesions between muscles.
Sports Massage & Events
Invigorating sports massage techniques can be used to warm and activate your body, preparing the specific muscles for action. Vibration, shaking, broadening or drumming techniques are best employed for this use.
Restorative sports massage is quick paced (short 10-15 minute segment). It can be used to enhance muscle activation, support training regiments by keeping the athlete loose, and prevent injury from tense muscles.
Primary goal is to give the athlete physical and psychological recovery by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system, calming them down and normalizing the body. Massage techniques of effleurage and petrissage are used to smooth out the muscles; this will stimulate the circulation of blood through the tissues to remove lactic acid and flush out metabolic waste products.