Sports Massage Therapy
What is Sports Massage Therapy?
An athlete, before a performance, is under immense stress
emotionally and physically and the body is also prone to injuries.
Practices before the event lead to constant build-up of tension
in the muscles and cause stress on joints, ligaments, tendons,
as well as the muscles themselves. Apart from muscle tension,
the athlete is also bogged down with fatigue and injuries
which may hamper the main performance. Sports massage is the
answer to emotional and physical well being for an athlete
before, after and during a performance.
Sports Massage is a specific type of massage which is generally
rendered before, during, and after athletic events to help
prepare the athlete for desired performance, to relax the
nerves and prevent injuries. This type of massage can be rendered
only by a professional who has a thorough understanding of
anatomy and physiology and particularly the muscular and skeletal
Sports Massage works deep to eliminate toxins embedded in
muscle fibers, remove adhesions, and minimize scar tissue
buildup. Muscle lengthening in sports massage helps restore
a range of motion and overall flexibility. Sports massage
also leads to improved circulation which aids better cell
nutrition, greater elasticity of muscle fiber, and reduced
Sports massage is a blend of Swedish massage and Shiatsu specifically
designed to cater to the needs of professional athletes. Depending
on the needs of the athlete, a variety of techniques are used
including classic Swedish strokes, cross-fiber friction, pressure-point
work, and joint mobilization.
Types of Sports Massage
Sports massage therapy includes pre-event, post-event, maintenance
and rehabilitation techniques that promote greater athletic
endurance and performance, reduced chances of injury and faster
Pre-Event sports massage helps warm up the muscles by stretching
them and making them flexible for optimal athletic performance.
A pre-event massage also stimulates the flow of blood and
nutrients to the muscle, reduces muscle tension, loosen the
muscles and produce a feeling of psychological readiness.
A pre -event massage is best done up to two days prior to
the main event.
Post- event massage focuses on relieving muscle soreness,
minimizing the effects of fatigue and reducing the stress
levels in the body. It also helps reduce swelling, maintain
flexibility, promote blood flow to the muscle to remove lactic
acid and waste build-up and reduce cramping. This also helps
This is more of a maintenance massage which can be done at
least once a week as a regular part of athletic training programs.
Preventive massage increases the flow of blood and nutrients
to the muscle and helps repair small tears due to strenuous
physical activity. It also keeps tissue loose so that different
layers of muscle slide over each other.
Sports massage is also used as a last resort in the event
of injury. Sports massage helps rehabilitate by minimizing
the adverse effects of scar tissue and adhesions caused to
the athlete and helps regain lost flexibility and strength.
Techniques in Sports Massage
There are three main techniques of massage frequently used
in sport, namely effleurage, petrissage and frictions. Most
of the massage techniques ensure the main pressure is directed
towards the heart to increase the venous and lymphatic flow.
The strokes also ensure that excess pressure does not cause
any damage to blood vessels. While effleurage is a preparatory
background stroke, petrissage allows detail work on the body
in releasing tension followed by friction.
Benefits of Sports Massage
The benefits of sports massage impact the physical, physiological
and psychological levels. A state of well being is achieved
only when all the three aspects are in balance. Here is a
compilation of the key benefits attained at each level through
a sports massage:
Physical effects of massage are:
- Deep massage causes the pores in tissue membranes to
open, enabling fluids and nutrients to pass through enabling
removal of waste products such as lactic acid.
- Deep massage encourages the muscles to take up oxygen
and nutrients which promote faster healing
- Sports massage stretches muscles to release tension or
stress caused due to excess physical activity
- Sports massage helps break down scar tissues which usually
affect the muscle, tendons and ligaments which impair performance.
- Sports massage helps improve elasticity of tissues. Physiological
effects of sports massage are:
- Sports massage helps reduce pain.
- Muscles are relaxed after a sports massage Psychological
effects of sports massage include:
- Reduced levels of anxiety and stress caused due to relaxed
muscles and nerves.
- Sports massage stimulates a sense of well being and health.
Sports Massage Therapist
A sports massage therapist must be trained & certified in
Sports massage therapy from a school accredited by the American
Massage Therapy Association/Commission on Massage Training
Accreditation/Approval (AMTA/COMTAA) or their State Board
of Education. A professional therapist may also have completed
an additional training program approved by the AMTA National
Sports Massage Certification Program. Many sports massage
therapists also complete the National Certification Examination
for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork.
People who suffer from the following conditions or disorders
should consult a physician before under going a sports massage:
acute infectious disease
high blood pressure
inflammation due to tissue damage
varicose veins and certain skin conditions
Muscle ruptures or Tendon ruptures
Burns, Chilblains and Broken bones
Rheumatoid Arthritis and Gout
Artificial blood vessels
Bleeding disorders such as hemophilia
Sharon Hopkins manages sites related to Massage
Health Therapy and explains Sports Massage Therapy in
this article. She also writes for Aromatherapy, Yoga besides
many other health related sites.
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