People associate massages with elite sportspeople or with a hedonistic lifestyle, but a sports massage can benefit you whether you’re an athlete or an office worker and whether you’re injured or not.
Practiced since the ancient Greek Olympics, sports massage was developed to help top athletes prepare their bodies for optimal performance, to recover after a big event, or to gain more from training.
But no matter what your sport or level of achievement, an ongoing programme of sports massage can help you avoid injury to your muscles, tendons and ligaments as well as speed up healing.
And at Petersfield Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Clinic we use sports massage as a complementary physiotherapy treatment for anyone with muscle pains or restricted mobility.
How Does a Sports Massage Work?
Athletes and sportspeople at all levels will often factor a sports massage into their training programme at least monthly. Hard training can make tissues hard and inelastic but massage helps reverse this, cutting the risk of injury as well as boosting the effect of training.
Deep massage increases blood flow to the muscles and opens up pores in tissue membranes, allowing fluids, oxygen and nutrients to pass through more easily. This is particularly important when muscles are tight after exercise or stiff through lack of use, when blood flow is reduced, slowing down recovery.
At the same time, waste products like lactic acid are expelled more quickly after activity, helping the muscles to recover.
Massage is also great for stretching muscles that normal stretches don’t reach. Massage can also stretch the membrane surrounding the muscle to help release tension. And massaging scar tissue can make it more elastic, improving the flexibility of muscle, tendons and ligaments in the affected area.
Sports Massage makes you feel Better
A sports massage relaxes the muscles and can reduce pain, which is often the result of tension and waste products building up in in muscles. It also releases endorphins into the bloodstream that make you feel good.
For this reason, a sports massage can be a great way to reduce stress and anxiety by inducing relaxation throughout your body.
What sort of Sports Massage do I need?
There are four types of sports massage and at Petersfield Physio we offer them all:
- Pre-event massage — a short, stimulating massage 15 – 45 minutes before the event. It is directed toward the parts of the body that will be involved in the exertion.
- Post-event massage — given within an hour or two of the event, to normalize the body’s tissues.
- Restorative massage — given during training to allow the athlete to train harder and with less injury.
- Rehabilitative massage — aimed at alleviating pain due to injury and returning the body to health.
Does a Sports Massage Hurt?
No. I’ll admit that a sports massage is quite vigorous but it’s not like the popular image of a Turkish massage – we don’t thump or bend you! You may feel a little hot or tender in affected parts of the body but you’ll feel great afterwards, and the benefits of increased circulation, released tension and improved range of movement far outweigh any temporary discomfort.
If you’re planning on doing some exercise, like a training run, soon afterwards, it’s worth letting the therapist know, as your legs may feel sore immediately after a massage.
Sports Massage is not just for Athletes
Despite its name, you don’t have to be an athlete to benefit from sports massage. It can also benefit people with everyday injuries, chronic pain or restricted movement. A massage can focus on a specific problem area of the body.
There are lots of practitioners, some more experienced and qualified than others. We can also offer useful advice about any muscular imbalances you might have and give you strengthening and stretching exercises.
Whether you want to keep your muscles in optimum condition during training, or get over a long-term everyday injury, then it’s worth your time researching to see if a sports massage can help you.