Sports massage offers significant health and performance benefits to professional and recreational athletes. The particulars of the sports massage technique are specific to your chosen sport. Massage therapists who choose to specialize in sports massage have superior knowledge about the movement mechanics of a variety of athletic pursuits. As such, he or she will focus on the areas of your body that experience overuse and stress from repetitive and sometimes aggressive movement patterns. Whatever your sport, a sports massage will benefit you on a general fitness, physiological and psychological level.
Sports Massage for General Fitness
When you have a great workout, your next exercise session is only as effective as the efficiency of your recovery process. Stretching might help you recover from a hard workout or vigorous sporting event, but sometimes your muscles are too tight to stretch. Sports massage helps you restore mobility and increase your range of motion. The relaxation that results from a sports massage also hastens the recovery process.
Some athletes have a 15-minute sports massage a few hours before an event. Many use it as a substitute for static stretching, a topic that has become quite controversial in the sports medicine arena. Stretching might excessively lengthen a muscle and decrease its stability at the supporting joint. Too much stretch also weakens the muscle, which is not what you want before the big game! Massage releases muscle tension without overly lengthening the muscle. You are relaxed, but fully functional.
Sports massage is particularly effective in targeting your muscle-tendon junctions. A 2010 study published in the journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that even a 30-second massage improved hip-flexor mobility. Margaret Jones, Ph.D. of the American College of Sports Medicine conducted a study whose results indicated decreased muscle in athletes who receive massages.
Your sports massage therapist also uses the touch process to identify muscle imbalances which might impede your athletic performance and increase your susceptibility to injury. Since some of our sports massage therapists are also physiotherapists, they can advise you on ways to alter your workout and address these imbalances.
Physiological Benefits of Sports Massage
DOMS is an acronym for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, a phenomenon that often results from extreme physical exertion. During competition season, events might be scheduled only one or two days apart. As an athlete, you do not have time for delayed onset muscle soreness. Sports massage improves circulation, which allows your blood to deliver oxygen and nutrients to sore muscles. It helps break down scar tissue, and assists in the removal of lactic acid, one of the waste products of intense physical activity. The entire process alleviates pain, and increases your readiness for the next event. If you happen to incur an injury, some forms of sport massage hasten the healing process.
Sports Massage for Anxiety Reduction
Pre-competition anxiety can mentally paralyze an athlete. Paralysis, whether mental or physical, has a negative impact on performance. Anxiety triggers negative self-talk, which eventually becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. In addition to anxiety reduction, some of the movements used in sports massage are highly invigorating. Invigoration encourages a positive attitude, exactly what you need to win your game!