Everything You Need to Know About Sports Massage
The world of sports is highly competitive, and as athletes push themselves to the limit, they increasingly suffer aches, pains, strains and injuries. Anyone who’s been through a recognized massage therapy program, will be well positioned to begin a career in sports massage and help athletes, sports enthusiasts, and fitness-lovers heal and recover from such injuries.
What are the benefits of sports massage?
Sports injuries are as common as winners and losers in a sport – that’s a given. Oftentimes, however, the first recourse of the injured is to take the pain-killers and drugs to help them recover. In many cases, the heavy use of drugs, both OTC and prescription-based, can produce long-term side effects.
That’s where the benefits of sports massage come in. If conducted under the supervision and auspices of trained professionals, sports massages help:
Reduce (maybe even eliminate!) the need for harmful chemical-based medication during the recovery process
Alleviate stress and muscle tension
Increase mobility and range of motion after a sport injury
Shorten down-time time and improves recovery
Build confidence and heal psychologically
These are just some of the pluses of turning to alternate treatments like massage, when dealing with sports injuries. However, these benefits will only accrue to the injured if they are delivered by practitioners who have undergone a course of study from a recognized massage therapy program.
Here is why: Patients can then be assured that the course of treatment is legitimate and being delivered by someone who knows what they are doing Practitioners will be confident that the movements, exercises and therapies they are prescribing have been vetted by a team, like the Federation of the State Massage Therapy Board, qualified to approve their use
Sports Centers, Fitness Institutions and other entities, where massage therapists are employed, can be confident that their clients will receive the full benefits of sports massage through efforts of professionally trained and qualified individuals they hire
Massage therapists are adept at manipulating a clients’ soft tissues and their muscles, in a way that helps them to relax. The benefits of sports massage are apparent as these specialized maneuvers are used to treat sports injuries, and to give relief to individuals and sportspeople who are often dealing with long-term, and sometimes chronic, health conditions.
The benefits of receiving such treatments, from someone who has undergone intensive training through an accredited massage therapy program, far outweigh the alternates available – which might include costly surgeries – or are medicine-based that often lead to substance-dependence.
What’s the difference between a sports massage and a regular massage?
A sports massage is based on the same Swedish massage method as a regular massage but the therapist will have a more specific knowledge of sports injuries and movement patterns and the anatomy so that specific areas that tighten up because of a person’s biomechanics and the sport involved, are released and normal function restored.
When’s the best time in your training cycle to get a massage?
That depends on what you want from the massage. A lighter pre-event massage the day before helps to relax and loosen muscles and calm the athlete if they are too nervous. A post-event massage helps to clear the muscles of metabolic “waste” (not lactic acid, your body does that by itself) from the effort of racing and releases excess tension. A maintenance massage that is performed every week or two, keeps the muscles functioning properly without excess tension and is a good way to stop initial niggles and painful areas from developing into a full-blown injury.
How do massages help with recovery?
Massage mechanically warms up, loosens and stretches muscles. This helps to get good blood flow to all areas within the muscle. It also helps to remove unwanted by-products of hard training into the lymphatic system. It has a calming effect on the nervous system which helps to relax the muscles and the mind.
How often should you go for the best results?
This depends on how much training you do and whether or not your body is coping with that training so it’s fairly individual. Most serious athletes have a massage at least once a week.
If you do massages regularly you get a cumulative effect – one massage will lower the tension in the muscles, this lasts for a few days to a week depending on what training you’re doing and how you react to that training. After this, the muscles slowly get tighter.
If you have another massage before they start getting tighter you can then lower the tension level even further. Someone who has regular massages for a while is able to have a deeper massage which will get to more muscle fibers and increase the benefit.
What should you know before you go for your first sports massage?
Normally if you have been training hard and haven’t had a sports massage before, the first one is quite painful, this is definitely partly a mental thing of not knowing what to expect, the next one is usually a lot better.
If having your legs massaged wear shorts or appropriate underwear so that the therapist can work on your glutes. These are very important muscles that control how your hips work. The therapist is not there to cause you pain for the sake of it. If an area is sore while being massaged it shows that it needs that work, bear with it and you will feel better afterward.