The Many Benefits of a Sports Massage
Sports Massage has long been highly popular with athletes. But the benefits of Sports Massage are not exclusive to athletes – it can bring benefit to a wide range of people. As a result, Sports Massage is now more popular than ever.
Here are a few facts about Sports Massage, which may explain its popularity:
1. Sports Massage reduces muscle injury and delayed onset muscle soreness
After a strenuous workout or an activity that the body is unaccustomed to, muscles often feel sore for 2–3 days.
2. Sports Massage uses a modern form of massage therapy that capitalises on a broad range of massage techniques
Sports Massage uses not only effleurage and petrissage, but also myofascial or trigger point techniques.
However, Practitioners who specialise in other forms of massage may also use these techniques. As with any complementary therapy, Practitioners often undertake further study and training and can converge with Practitioners of another therapy – so there is sometimes overlap in diagnosis and techniques used.
3. Sports Massage therapists are trained in basic musculoskeletal anatomy
This serves Sports Massage therapists well, as it allows them to perform a massage that is effective at improving athletic performance and speeding up recovery time.
Again, other massage therapists will also be trained in musculoskeletal anatomy, but Sports Massage therapists specialise in this field, so they tend to have a higher level of expertise.
4. A Sports Massage is not the same as a Deep Tissue Massage
Both Sports Massage and Deep Tissue Massage fall into the category of a rehabilitative massage – as opposed to Swedish Massage, which falls into the category of relaxation massage. However, in terms of massage techniques, there is less overlap between a Sports Massage and a Deep Tissue Massage than between a Sports Massage and a Swedish Massage.
Also, Sports Massage and Deep Tissue Massage perhaps both sound more evidence-based than Swedish massage. I believe this may be one of the reasons Sports Massage and Deep Tissue Massage are more readily compared to one another than either are to Swedish Massage.
5. A pre-workout Sports Massage improves performance
Some athletes have a massage before – even as close as three hours before – a large event. Such a massage can be helpful up to five days before the event and will focus on the body areas that will be worked out.
The aim is to increase muscle extensibility and thereby joint mobility, preparing the individual for the event. The techniques used during a pre-workout Sports Massage are designed to aid relaxation and ready the muscles – the same as in a Swedish Massage.
A vigorous Deep Tissue Massage is not ideal before participating in a larger event because this type of massage puts too much strain on the muscles, which will then need a few days to recover.
As well as having a massage before an event, many athletes then follow this up by having a massage afterwards. This will focus on recovery of the muscles and is hugely popular – as evidenced by the many runners who have a massage after running the London Marathon. But it is not just Marathon-runners who can benefit from a post-workout massage – even after a moderate activity, a massage can be extremely helpful.
6. Sports Massage has wider health benefits, such as alleviating symptoms of stress and anxiety (but massage forms such as Swedish Massage that fall into the relaxing category of massage are more effective at this)
Sports Massage, like any form of massage, stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for ‘digest and rest’. This includes lowering the blood pressure and reducing the heart rate. Other forms of massage, however, such as Swedish Massage, are more effective in this regard.
7. Sports Massage therapy became popular after its effectiveness became evident
While massage itself is thousands of years old, Sports Massage originated in the last century.
In 1924, a Finn, Paavo Nurmi, won five gold medals at the Paris Olympics, setting record times. He was a proponent of Sports Massage and incorporated it into his training regime.
8. Massage is several millennia old
Massage has been used to treat illnesses and injury for thousands of years. It was first recorded to be used in China around 3000-2500 BC, and was also used in India around the same time.
Massage, thus, originated around the same time as Acupuncture, making it much older than osteopathy. Incredibly, herbal medicine is even older, dating back to the Palaeolithic age, around 60,000 years ago.
Massage also arose independently in Ancient Egypt and Japan. Alongside massage, the Egyptians also developed, as early as 2330 BC, Reflexology.
Whether you are a sports enthusiast or thinking about being more physically active; whether you would like to increase your performance or prevent delayed onset muscle soreness, Sports Massage may appeal to you.
You do not have to be a sports enthusiast to benefit from the many benefits a Sports Massage brings.
The Aston Clinic London Ltd is a third-generation complementary health clinic based in New Malden and serves the local areas of Kingston, Wimbledon, Raynes Park, Surbiton, Chessington, Worcester Park, Sutton and other areas of southwest London.