Sports massage is a specific kind of massage that works on deep tissues to help reduce muscular tension, pain and discomfort. While it is of significant use to those in all types of sports, people who aren’t in sports can also benefit from this technique. In fact, sports massage is effective for many health issues such as:
- Posture issues and resulting pain
- Golfers and tennis elbow
- Back pain
- Muscular and joint injuries (strains and sprains)
- Repetitive strain injuries
A sports massage specialist focuses on the areas most affected by your exercise and sports activities. In fact, you probably won’t have a full-body massage.
The techniques used in sports massage come from other types of massage that may be more familiar. Sports massage draws from Swedish massage. These techniques are fast and it also includes stretching and compression movements. A sports massage therapist uses a variety of techniques during treatment that include:
- Muscle energy techniques (such as PNF stretching, active moments, trigger point compression)
- Friction techniques
- Longitudinal stripping
These may sound like painful techniques; however, they do much to help relieve and heal many types of injuries. In fact, they work to warm the muscle tissue, increase blood circulation in the area and reduce muscle tension.
Benefits of Sports Massage
The goal of sport massage is not only treatment of current injuries. It’s also a way to prevent future injuries and keep you in better shape. Sports massage has many benefits including:
- Reduction of muscle pain, tension, and discomfort
- Decreased muscle stiffness, which can lead to improved performance
- Reduced recovery time
- Increased range of motion, which can also improve performance
- Increases relaxation
- Reduction in physical and psychological stress
- Improves sleep quantity and quality
Sports massage benefits mostly come from increased local blood circulation. This helps to get rid of toxic chemicals and waste products that are stored in the muscle tissue. Not only that, but increasing the blood flow to the muscles brings more oxygen and nutrients to the tissue. As a result, tissues can repair faster, which brings about lowered tension in the muscles.
Compression Techniques & Blood Flow Bring Relaxation
How do the compression techniques used in sports massage help? Compression techniques are also used to direct blood flow and even the nerve reflexes in the muscle. The overall effect is to bring relaxation to the injured muscle.
Tight muscles can sometimes irritate the nerve receptors found within muscle tissue. This leads to pain and discomfort. When tension in the muscle is reduced, it causes a reduction in nerve irritation, which leads a reduction in pain and discomfort in the tissue.
Increased Range of Motion
Reducing muscle tension, while increase blood flow, also has the effect of increasing a joint’s range of motion.
In addition, manual massage techniques can work to align new collagen formation in the muscle, which is important. This can help realign scar tissue, and thus reduce the risk of another injury. Improved range of motion can help increase sports performance and even prevent future injuries.
Pain inhibits the body’s function in many ways and adds to stress and tension. Think of a sprain or strain you’ve experienced in the past. If you waited to have it treated, the next day or so you probably experienced increased pain and weren’t able to move properly. This was caused by the increase in chemicals and hormones that increase in an injured muscle.
Sports massage works to increase blood flow to the injured area, which makes it easier for the body to rid the area of those chemicals and hormones that contribute to the pain. With the chemicals and waste products flushed out, the muscle then has a chance to relax and begin to repair, thus reducing pain caused by the initial injury.
Activation of the Lymph System
Many people don’t realise it, but the lymph system is important to the healing of sports injuries. The lymph system is found throughout the body. It works to collect excess fluid and help the body get rid of this fluid. The lymph system flushes toxins out of the body. This can help reduce muscle pain, and rid your body of toxins it needs. You can help your lymph system work even better by staying hydrated, especially after a sports massage.
Reduce Stress & Anxiety
When the body is under a lot of stress and anxiety, it can’t function correctly. Sports massage has been shown to reduce the hormones and chemicals that cause stress and anxiety. This can help the healing speed up the healing process and work to prevent future injuries.
Reduced Blood Pressure
Pain, stress, and anxiety can have a terrible affect on blood pressure. They can increase the body’s blood pressure to unhealthy levels, which inhibit the body’s ability to heal.
Sports massage can work to reduce stress, pain, and anxiety, which leads to less tension and allows the vascular system to function properly and speed up healing of an injury.
Increase Endorphins & Positive Hormones
Just as sports massage can rid muscles of harmful hormones and waste products, it can also help the body to increase endorphins and positive hormones to help you feel better.
With an increase of endorphins, serotonin and dopamine, the body begins to relax, and feelings of stress, pain, and tension are also reduced. This can help you to relax and allow natural healing to take place with the help of sports massage.
Reduced Injury Time
When all the toxins are flushed from your injured muscles, and increased blood circulation and oxygenation, your muscles will heal much faster. This is one of the great benefits of sports massage, especially where performance is a major concern.
Sports massage can improve your performance. When your body can work as it should, your muscles can perform faster; you’ll be able to do everything better—from running and jumping, to walking and lifting.
As you can see, sports massage comes with many benefits that can help you recover more quickly from an injury, increase your sports performance, and even reduce the number of future injuries. Plus, it makes you feel good!