When taking up sports, most athletes know that they will have to use their muscles and make movements that will challenge their bodies in many ways. It’s not surprising when their muscles and joints become sore sometimes during practice or after the game.
To deal with bodily aches and pains caused by playing sports, athletes make use of sports massage. If you’re an athlete, you may be wondering: Is sports massage really important for improving my performance? This article will help you learn more about this type of massage and how exactly it helps in reaching optimum athletic performance.
What is Sports Massage?
Also known as performance massage or bodywork, sports massage is a special type of body massage that specifically applies to athletes. It can be used before, during and after games and sports events. It’s incredibly helpful for reaching top performance during games as well as maintaining an athlete’s physique in the off-season. Working the soft tissues of the body leads to various benefits such as lessening the soreness, avoiding injury, and enhancing sports performance. Numerous top athletes incorporate regular sports massage in their training program.
Purpose of Sports Massage
The massage aims to reduce, if not eliminate, factors that interfere with efficient human performance. It emphasizes on preventing injury during play. It works to loosen and invigorate your body physically and mentally as well. Through this, you can have the optimum chance to reach your performance potential. Whether you’re a professional or amateur athlete, you can greatly benefit from sports massage. Any healthy person who engages in strenuous physical activities can also benefit from the massage. If your main goals for getting a massage encompass optimum performance, injury prevention, and body restoration, then sports massage is a great addition to your athletic life. It’s important to receive a sports massage from an expert and experienced therapist who can tailor the massage to your specific physical condition as well as the nature of your sports.
Why Exactly Is Sports Massage Essential in Attaining the Best Athletic Performance?
Sports massage helps maximize your performance by doing the following:
• Greatly enhances your stamina and endurance.
• Boosts your range of motion and flexibility.
• Prevents your body from getting injured.
• Reduces soreness and muscle tension.
• Improves the lymph and blood circulation.
• Enhances muscle recovery.
• Facilitates the repair of damaged soft tissue.
• Relieves muscle spasms and cramps.
The Strokes of Sports Massage
Constricted muscle fibers typically lead to inefficient blood circulation. The circulatory system is responsible for bringing the blood which carries oxygen and nutrients to the muscles. When the circulation becomes less efficient, this causes the muscles to be more vulnerable to pain, tension, stiffness, spasms, and cramps. Once you engage in a tough physical sports activity, your undernourished muscles will hamper your performance, hence preventing you from achieving top athletic performance.
Sports massage helps in spreading constricted muscle fibers to improve the circulation of blood to your muscle tissues. The massage therapist will employ various strokes to free muscle fibers and relieve soreness, tension, stiffness, and pain. These strokes include the following:
• Muscle warming through warm hands, heating pad or towel
• Releasing painful trigger points by applying direct pressure to the muscles
• Circulation stimulation and relieving muscle tension through friction
• Invigoration through percussion
• Effleurage (gentle strokes)
• Removing waste and toxins through kneading
• Relieving muscle fiber constriction and increasing range of motion through mild stretching
Applying these strokes with the right combination, depth, and duration greatly helps maximize an athlete’s performance.
The massage should be performed by qualified sports massage therapists who have the necessary knowledge and experience to administer the right massage. A professional therapist will know how to apply the most appropriate strokes depending on the condition of the receiver. On the other hand, an untrained individual may not know the specific details of applying bodywork and may actually cause injury rather than ease pain. Most therapists are available in spas and sports medicine clinics. You may also find professional therapists in hospitals. Since performance massage is very sport-specific, massage therapists need to know the type of sport you engage in and your movements during play. This helps them assess the best strokes to use to address muscular and joint problems.
Sports massage is great for athletes playing sports such as swimming, running, skiing, gymnastics, tennis, basketball and just about any sport that involves strenuous movements. Even non-athletes who simply engage in sports as a hobby or perform strenuous daily activities can surely benefit from the massage.
Overall, massage is an excellent means to help you achieve optimal athletic performance. It can be relaxing, stimulating, and relieving. Albeit it’s not meant to be seen as a cure for all sports-related injuries, sports massage is definitely important for reaching consistent peak performance for any athlete.