Sports Massage Therapy Helps Recovery and Improves Performance

Sports massage therapy can:

  • Help treat sports injuries
  • Help prepare your body for vigorous activity
  • Soothe fatigued, stiff, and sore muscles caused by exercise,
  • Help you recover from sport events

Let's look at more details.

Massage For Sports Injury

Sports injury massage (also called rehabilitative massage) can help you heal faster from injury. Rehabilitative massage requires that the massage therapist understand soft tissue injuries, how to evaluate them, and when to refer you to another healthcare practitioner.

Plus, a massage therapist can assess how the injury affects your posture, movement, and other areas of your body. Addressing adverse effects that your body uses to compensate for an injury can prevent them from becoming permanent. More about injury massage.

Massage For Performance and Injury Prevention

Sports massage at a triathlon.

As a regular part of a sports training routine, massage can relieve and prevent chronic tension and imbalances that interfere with your performance and lead to injury.

Massage lengthens shortened muscles, reduces spasm, and potentially improves circulation. These benefits can help you return to your activity sooner and help your muscles work more efficiently for better performance.

The following information about the benefits of sports massage is adapted from The Healing Art of Sports Massage by Joan Johnson.

Athletes who cross-train know more workouts help improve performance. But some people neglect recovery, which is just as important. When you allow time for a full recovery, you then have the ability to push previous boundaries.

Don't carry your soreness and stiffness from your last workout with you. Take steps to speed your recovery so you can achieve a higher level in your next workout. Massage is a way to recover completely by tending to specific muscle groups used in sports activity. Regular massage has the following benefits:

  • Promote faster recovery from muscle stiffness and soreness caused by physical activity.
  • Relieve muscle pain and spasms.
  • Find and treat problem areas before they become injured.
  • Break up adhesions (stuck-together tissue) in muscles and soften scar tissue caused by injury, helping to restore suppleness and elasticity.
  • Stretch and relax your muscles.
  • Improve your range of motion.
  • Improve blood and lymph circulation.
  • Relax your mind and body.
  • Improve your overall body awareness.

Well-trained athletes are complete: eating properly, training efficiently, relaxing, getting massages, and pursuing other interests besides sports. They are able to balance physical training, mental training, massage, relaxation, and rest.

Event-Related Massage

Plato Quote About Exercise

You can also use massage to help prepare for and recover from sports activity. Receiving a pre-event massage, which uses light and invigorating techniques, about 24 hours before your event helps prepare your body for the upcoming stress. Another option is to receive a short, vigorous massage a few hours before your event to supplement your warm-up.

Competitions often have massage therapists onsite to offer short massages during the event to help you recover from prior activity and prepare you for more.

Getting a post-event massage within 48 hours of the sports activity can focus on relaxing muscles, reducing your recovery time from the intense activity, and addressing injuries.

Choosing a Sports Massage Therapist

Not all general massage therapists are the best choice if you want sports-related massage. Ask potential therapists about their training and experience working with sports participants and their specific needs. Explain your needs, and, if necessary, try out a few different therapists to find the best one for you.






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Photo Credit: Robert Whitehead, CC

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