An athlete’s top performance may be dependant upon the proper application and use of sports massage. More than an injury treatment, sports massage provides overwhelming benefits for athletes physically, psychologically and physiologically.
Sports massage is designed to prepare the athlete to perform at their peak, relieve muscle swelling/tension and reduce fatigue. During strenuous physical activity, muscle tensions builds up in the body’s soft tissues. Due to overuse or overextension, lesions and minor injuries occur in these tissues that can cause serious pain or reduce athletic performance.
Sport massage helps alleviate pain and prevent injuries that greatly affect mobility, flexibility, response time and overall athletic performance.
A common setback athletes face is delayed-onset muscle soreness, commonly known as DOMS. This regards muscle pain that usually develops several hours after exercise and consists of eccentric muscle actions. This is especially so if the exercise is unfamiliar to the athlete. Although DOMS is most likely a symptom of eccentric-exercise-induced muscle damage, it does not necessarily prevent ongoing muscle damage. Recent studies have indicated that sports massage can help prevent and reduce the often debilitating and painful effects of DOMS in athletes.
A recent Australian study involving five healthy men and women who undertook a variety of new exercises concluded that sports massage played a vital role in reducing DOMS. “Massage was effective in alleviating DOMS by approximately 30% and reducing swelling,” the study concluded. Massage can reduce this through improved lymphatic and blood system circulation that assists in the removal of metabolites and other unwanted toxins.
Heavily exercised muscles can also lose their ability to relax. This causes loss of flexibility and chronically-tight muscles. Lack of flexibility is often linked to muscle tightness, and predisposes the athlete to further injury. This especially includes muscle pulls and tears. Blood flow through tight muscles is poor and this can also cause the athlete great pain. A routine sports massage treatment is very effect in fighting these effects of heavily exercised muscles.
“Muscular strain is a common sports-related injury with the potential to chronically impair performance when sound principles of injury recognition, immediate treatment, rehabilitation, and prevention are ignored” when preventive treatments such as sports massage are applied, according to Glen A Halvorson, MD. He says severe muscular strain may be avoided with such treatments.
Sports massage should be undertaken before and after athletic workouts, with many “maintenance” sessions undertaken in-between competitions or meets. Pre-event sports massage focused on priming the major muscles to be utilised and improves tissue pliability. It also assists the athlete in boosting their mental state for competition as well as preparing them reach their athletic peak during performance.
Post-event massage is given following an athletic event and is aimed towards speedy recovery. This types of sports massage is aimed towards reducing metabolic build-up and muscle spasms that occur with vigorous exercise.
Integrated into a regular training program, athletes can avoid DOMS, revitalise and relax muscles, and feel more at ease coming into a big event.