WHAT IS A SPORTS MASSAGE?
Sports massage therapy is great for every kind athlete, from world-class professionals to weekend joggers. Sports Massage is a generic term for three different types of massage associated with athletic performance. For athletes who train continuously, the goal is to enhance endurance, lessen the chance of injury and shorten the time needed to recover from an event and may utilize a variety of techniques such as class Swedish massage, trigger point therapy, and hydrotherapy.
Pre-event sports massage is done to help prevent serious athletic injury and is generally given shortly before an athlete competes. It helps to warm up the muscles, stretching them and making them flexible for optimal athletic performance. A pre-event massage will stimulate the flow of blood and nutrients to the muscles, reduce muscle tension, loosen muscles and produce a feeling of psychological readiness.
Post-event sports massage helps reduce the swelling caused by microtraumas; loosens tired, stiff muscles; helps maintain flexibility; will promote blood flow to the muscles to remove lactic acid and waste build up; and reduces cramping. A post-event massage is usually given 1-2 hours after a completion is over in order to give the dilated blood vessels a chance to return to their normal condition and is generally light and gentle in order not to damage already distressed muscles. Additionally, post- event sports massage helps to speed up the athlete’s recovery time.
Maintenance sports massage is done at least once a week as a regular part of athletic training. Getting maintenance massages will help increase the flow of blood and nutrients to the muscles and aid in keeping the tissue loose so that the different layers of muscle can slide easily over each other. Maintenance sports massage also helps reduce the development of scar tissue while increasing flexibility and range of motion.
The goal of all sports massage is to maximize an athlete’s performance. Depending on the sport the athlete is playing, the sports massage will be concentrated on different part of the body. Each type of sports massage uses different massage techniques. Combining techniques will allow the massage therapist to achieve the maximum desired result for the athlete.
- Effleurage is a light stroking that can be performed with the palms or thumbs. The pressure and speed is varied depending on the muscle and the desired result. Effleurage increases blood flow to the muscle
- Percussive strokes are blows or strikes on the muscle, often performed with the little fingers. They are used to tone the muscles.
- Cupping involves percussing or striking the muscles with cupped hands. It stimulates the skin and causes muscle contractions that help tone the muscles.
Additionally, massage may be an appropriate technique for helping certain sports injuries, especially muscle injuries to heal. When treating an injury, however, it is best to seek advised from a qualified sports therapist before getting a massage.
Used as a preventative maintenance or to address pain or to assist in recovery, massages can be an essential weapon in your training arsenal. They also help you to relax and feel physically and psychologically better, benefits that even the non-athlete would enjoy. Sports massage therapy every week or two may be a great addition to your normal regimen.
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