Enhance Exercise and Athletic Performance with Sports Massage

Enhance Exercise and Athletic Performance with Sports Massage

You don’t have to be an athlete to receive a sports massage. You can be a weekend warrior, a dog walker or even an occasional dancer that can cut a rug every now and then. It’s true that sports massage can help athletes recover from overuse injuries and exertion from an intense training schedule or event.

Sports massage can also be for the golfers, yoga class goers, and for those who are starting up at the gym to get into shape. A sports massage focuses on the main muscle groups associated with the activity you do the most. If you ride your bicycle on a sunny Saturday, but don’t ride regularly, a sports massage could be what your body needs.

Sports massage is a restorative, preventative, and repairing massage that helps the muscles recover from exercise that can strain muscle tissue during activity. When you lift weights or run, for example, you are breaking down the muscle tissue with tiny, microscopic tears. The rebuilding phase begins after the activity ends and that is when soreness, even pain can develop.

Contrary to what you may have heard, sports massage is not deep tissue massage. There are two distinct types of sports massage – one is pre-event, and the other is post-event massage. 

Having a sports massage prior to participating in a major event or activity prepares the muscle tissue by focusing on circulation and gentle stretching. 

If you are running a marathon in a week from now, the best time to receive a sports massage is about 2-3 days before your event. Getting a treatment the day before an event can put you at risk of having mild muscle soreness and sense of muscle fatigue. Avoid trigger point work or deep cross fiber fractioning at this time. Save that for the massages you receive 2-3 weeks prior to the week of the event. This will ensure that your body is in “ready to perform” condition.

The second type of sports massage is post-event. You can receive a post-event sports massage as soon as 2 hours after the event. 

A post event involves compression, lighter strokes, and gentle stretching, like pre-event. Because of the increased blood flow and adrenaline produced during the event, it is hard to know if the athlete or weekend warrior has tight muscles or an injury. It normally takes about 24-48 hours until you can objectively assess the state of the muscles or injury after the body has had time to rest and recover.

Once the body has returned to a more balanced state and there is no pending major activity, you can resume your regular massages that can incorporate deep tissue techniques to assist the repairing process. As with pre-event sports massage, avoid deep tissue until the body has fully recovered.

Massage helps athletes and the occasional sports enthusiast to maintain overall muscle health by identifying areas of tension and addressing them before an injury occurs. Massage increases tissue flexibility and muscle relaxation, improves range of motion, relieves trigger points, as well as reduces adhesions. Combined, these benefits of massage help the athlete remain active, optimize his or her training, and maximize performance. 

Being proactive is the key to preventing injury. With all the benefits afforded to you from receiving massage therapy, even if you do not achieve first place, you and your health become the big winner.