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Sports Massage to Enhance Athletic Performance

By: Sarah Knowles BA, MA - Updated: 26 May 2010 | comments*Discuss
Sports Massage Muscle Massage Therapist

Almost everyone loves having a massage. Few people, however, are aware that specialised massages can actually help you not only feel better, but perform better as well.

A sports massage, for example, seeks to manage, manipulate and rehabilitate from injury all soft tissues in the body, which include muscles, tendons and ligaments.

Through such a massage, which can but does not have to concentrate on results, a sports performer will not only gain relief from injury and stress, but also perform better in his or her sport.

What is a Sports Massage?

People who are actively engaged in sport often rely on specialised massages to enhance their athletic performance. This can mean having a massage during training, before or after a big competition, after travel to an event, and for injury recovery and prevention.

Similar to a Swedish massage, a sports massage concentrates on stimulating both blood circulation and lymphatic fluids. The massage therapist will concentrate on trigger areas to break down adhesions (knots) in the muscles, thereby increasing and improving the overall range of motion.

Often, the massage therapist will concentrate on a problem area, such as a frozen shoulder, which makes it a bit different to a full body massage. The massage may also be a bit deeper or more intense than a full body massage would be, as it seeks to repair injury – or prevent it, or just improve athletic performance overall.

Benefits of Sports Massage

There are numerous benefits to having a sports massage, which is recommended for sports performers, but can be of benefit to virtually anyone. These benefits include:

  • Increasing or decreasing both muscle length and muscle tone
  • Helping to reduce stress, including reducing heart rate and lowering blood pressure, allowing performers to concentrate on upcoming events and prepare themselves mentally
  • Sedating or stimulating nerve endings, when needed
  • Improving blood circulation in the body
  • Improving lymphatic flow in the body
  • Helping remove metabolic waste from the body
  • Helping to remodel scar tissue
  • Improving general athletic performance overall

Sports Massage for Mere Mortals

People who are not actively engaged in sport can still benefit from a sports massage. If you have an injury, are in chronic pain or suffer from restricted movement in a specific area, a sports massage – sometimes referred to as a deep tissue massage - could be of great value to you.

People who regularly sit at a computer and have developed bad posture can benefit from a sports massage in particular, as it can treat back or muscle strain. People recovering from specific injuries – not necessarily sports-related – may find a sports massage immensely beneficial as well.

A sports massage may also be more appealing to men who are resistant to the idea of a massage in the first place, as the idea of a “sports massage” sounds more masculine than an aromatherapy massage, for example.

A Word of Caution

If you want a sports massage, make sure you don’t eat a heavy meal or drink a lot of alcohol beforehand. Tell your massage therapist if you have health conditions such as diabetes, or if you are or think you could be pregnant.

If you have specific skin conditions, a fever or are feeling generally unwell, it is advisable to wait before having a massage of any kind. And only use a qualified massage therapist, one who specialises in providing sports massages in particular. If you are seeing a physiotherapist for a specific injury, ask him or her for a referral.

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