Sports massage uses a varying degrees of pressure (often deeper, more intense and focused than in conventional massage) to speed up an athlete’s recovery time before competition and importantly to help prevent injury.
Many professionals believe that a complete training programme should include not just the exercise itself, but also regular massage for the athlete to reach optimum performance levels.
Because each sport is unique and uses the muscle groups in different ways, a qualified sports massage therapist will have an expert knowledge of the muscular and skeletal systems, to tailor the ideal treatment for each individual body.
What To Expect From A Sports Massage
- The strokes used in sports massage are usually directed towards the heart, this technique is designed to increase blood and lymph flow
- Your therapist sometimes massages you with shorter strokes in the opposite direction – this is designed to stretch your muscle fibres.
- The massage will start with ‘effleurage’, a variety of stroking movements usually carried out with the whole palm of the hand and the fingers, which enables you to become accustomed to your therapist’s touch, warm your body’s tissues and increase your blood flow
- The next technique to be used is called ‘petrissage’, which is kneading designed to work on deeper tissues, mobilise fluids, stretch muscle fibres and enhance relaxation.
- After this comes the ‘frictions’ method – aimed at breaking down lesions and even scar tissue, and separating muscle fibres.
- Don’t be afraid to tell your therapist to be gentle on particular areas if this is uncomfortable which is common.
Benefits of a Sports Massage
A sports massage multiple benefits for an athlete, or anyone completing regular exercise. It can:
- Relax muscles
- Reduce fatigue
- Relieve swelling around your joints
- Boost circulation and the immune system so that the body heals faster
- Improve your flexibility and body strength
- Slow your heart rate and lower blood pressure
- Increase your circulation and your lymph flow
- Aid recovery after you’ve completed strenuous exercise
- Prevent frequenting injuries by getting rid of the tension in the muscles
- Sports massage can also read the body to see if there are any areas where the soft tissue or muscle is weaker, and help strengthen it to prevent it from breaking down.