The prime purpose of sports massage therapy is to help alleviate the stress and tension which builds up in the body’s soft tissues during physical activity. Where minor injuries and lesions occur, due to overexertion and/or overuse, massage can break them down quickly and effectively. Above all, it can help prevent those niggling injuries that so often get in the way of performance and achievement, whether one is an athlete, ardent keep-fitter or a once a week jogger.
This treatment is not just for the sports person: anyone can benefit from sports massage, including people in physically demanding jobs and those not quite so obvious (occupational, emotional and postural stress may produce many similar characteristics to sports injuries).
Sports massage tends to be deeper and more intense. It is based on the various elements of Swedish massage and often incorporates a combination of other techniques involving stretching, compression, friction, toning, and trigger point response techniques similar to Acupressure and Shiatsu. The skilled therapist brings together this blend of techniques, knowledge and advice during treatment, to work effectively with the client to bring about optimum performance and to provide injury-free training and minimise post event injuries.
Benefits and Effects
There are three areas where sports massage is used to benefit athletes.
A regular massage treatment programme based on the therapist’s understanding of anatomy and of the muscles used in a given sport and which are likely candidates for trouble. By concentrating on particular muscle groups the therapist can help the athlete maintain or improve range of motion and muscle flexibility.
Pre-event and post-event massage therapies are tailored for distinct purposes. Pre-event treatment is used as a supplement to an athlete’s warm-up to enhance circulation and reduce excess muscle and mental tension prior to competition. It is tailored to the needs of the athlete and his/her event and can be relaxing or stimulating as appropriate. Post-event massage, on the other hand, is geared towards reducing the muscle spasms and metabolic build-up that occur with rigorous exercise. Various sports massage techniques enhance the body’s own recovery process improving the athlete’s ability to return to training and competition, and reducing the risk of injury.
Even with preventative maintenance, muscles cramp, tear, bruise, and ache. Sports massage can speed healing and reduce discomfort during the rehabilitation process.
Soft tissue techniques employed by sports massage therapists are effective in the management of both acute and chronic injuries.
Trigger point techniques reduce the spasm and pain that occur both in the injured and "compensation" muscles.
Cross-fibre friction techniques can help with healing by improved formation of strong and flexible repair tissue, which is vital in maintaining full pain-free range of motion during rehabilitation.
In all cases, such massage techniques are employed in collaboration with other appropriate medical care.