Sports Massage: Everything you need to know. By Amy Ridge
What is sports massage?
So what is it about a massage that makes it ‘sport’ specific? You may be forgiven for being somewhat confused by the term, as in fact it is in no way a pre-requisite to be a sports performer or even participate in sport to benefit from sports massage. What sets them apart from your standard, albeit relaxing regular massage, is the focus of the treatment and indeed the abilities of your practitioner.
Do I need a sports massage?
Our bodies are constantly adapting, unfortunately not always in the most beneficial ways, to daily stressors placed on the body. Hours spent sitting at a desk, the dreaded commute, and repetitive manual tasks can inevitably cause us to develop compensations and build asymmetrical patterns of tension which can contribute to varying levels of discomfort. Sure, we’re all pretty confident we know how to stretch and self manage, which is why you’ll start tomorrow. Well tomorrow you’re a little busy, and the day after, but it’s next on the ‘to do’ list right? This is where sports massage can help.
What happens during a sports massage?
As well as listening to your symptoms and requirements, a sports massage therapist will guide you through a full postural assessment and evaluate specific areas of concern or irritation. These findings will direct the treatment to optimize your outcome. During the treatment, various massage strokes and techniques will be used, applied directly onto the skin with an oil or lotion to the appropriate and affected areas. Management strategies such as how to maintain your improved flexibility or movement patterns will help to prolong the short and long term benefits you experience after your treatment.
How does sports massage work?
Some of you may already be familiar with the enhanced sense of well-being and energy levels a sports massage provides, but what is actually happening? Well there are a number of physiological changes that occur which affect different body systems and have varied benefits. Read on to find out how a sports massage could help you…….
Top 10 reasons why a sports massage could benefit you
Improves circulation, blood and lymph flow – delivering fresh oxygen and nutrients to the muscles, and removing waste products helping you to feel less sluggish and more energized.
Decreases muscle tone and tension – probably the most sought after effect, commonly in areas such as the shoulders and lower back.
Increases flexibility – by working along muscle fibres to passively stretch the tissue, or working across areas of tension to release contracted fibres, the muscle is encouraged to lengthen.
Assists in the removal of metabolic waste – this can be particularly good for athletes and those who exercise. Stretching alone is not always enough, particularly if training intensity or frequency is increasing or changing.
Remodels scar tissue if required – working directly over and around scar tissue after adequate healing time stops the new and old tissue binding down which can restrict normal movement.
Assists pre or post sport to mentally stimulate or relax – sports massage can influence our anxiety state depending on how the strokes are applied, consequently enhancing performance.
Improves posture – by removing areas of restriction, weaker muscles are encouraged to activate, allowing the body to re-align.
Accelerates recovery from injury – by stimulating muscles after a period of inactivity, and realigning newly formed tissue.
Helps prevent injury – particularly beneficial in preventing over-use injuries by ensuring muscles can recover in between exercise bouts.
Stimulates nerve endings – which can either stimulate or relax the body depending on the desired outcome and technique used.