Sports massage is a type of massage specifically aimed at athletic performance. It consists of manipulation of soft tissue (skin, muscle, tendons or fascia) through the application of different massage techniques to achieve specific goals in sports performance, recover and rehabilitation.
Effleurage – this is a technique used for lymphatic and circulatory mobilization, consisting in long, light and slow strokes towards the direction of the heart. Most massages may start and end with this modality.
Petrissage – this technique consists of kneading, rolling, lifting and wringing the soft tissue, its main function being to promote muscle release and recovery.
Friction – a deep tissue massage technique. This technique consists of strokes in the direction of fibres, across or in small circular movements and it generates heat to the area assisting in healing of injuries. Trigger point point release is sometimes classified under friction technique.
Tapotement – this technique is more rhythmically. It consists of hacking, taping and cupping on the muscles. It stimulates the soft tissue, circulation and the nerves.
Vibration – consists of vibrating, shaking and trembling movements over an area. It assist in muscle relaxation and soothing.
Types of massage
Pre-event: done mainly 24 hours hours before a sporting event, but may be done up to 72hours before. The main focus of this massage is to increase readiness for an event. Increasing circulation to the area, helping the muscles relax and aiding the athlete to direct his focus on the performance.
Post-event: this kind is usually performed within 48 hours after a sporting event. Massage is used to flush out the toxins and lactic acid in the muscles, reduce swelling and pain caused by the event. The main focus is assist the athlete’s recovery.
Maintenance: this type is done regularly as part of an athlete’s normal training program. It’s application ranges from once a month to daily, in some cases. The main focus would be to address known problem areas, help recover from training and assist in preventing injuries.
Rehabilitative: this type of sports massage is done to assist in recovery of injuries. It focuses on facilitating healing by improving circulation and lymphatic drainage as well as releasing muscle tightness and spasms that contribute to the symptoms.
The benefits of sports massage are many, but it is important to know that massage works best as an adjunct and not stand alone form of therapy.
Common benefits of sports massage are:
• Increased joint range of motion (ROM) and flexibility
• Decreased muscle pain and tension
• Assists in tissue healing and recovery
• Improved recovery time
• Decreased risk of injuries
• Improved performance
• Better sleep
• Reduced anxiety
• Improved alertness
• Improved mood
• Improved sense of wellbeing
Sports massage is generally safe, provided contra-indications are avoided. Some people may experience post treatment soreness for 1 or 2 days post session.
These are conditions in which a sports massage is not advised. This may be due to the nature of the injury, dependent on stage of the injury or healing, or pending clearance from a doctor.
Massage is contraindicated for such conditions because its adverse effects may outweigh its benefits and in some cases it may worsen the condition or even cause death, as in the case of thrombosis. For this reason it is important to make sure you get a massage from a qualified professional. If you are unsure of have any questions, contact your healthcare practitioner.
Sports massage is a great way to supplement a training program and plays a great supportive role to athletic performance and recovery. There are many different ways sports massage can be incorporated in a training program and adjusted throughout the seasons. The techniques used during a massage session are heavily dependent on the goal and timing of the massage, so it is important to have these clear before booking a session. For best results, we advise to always communicate goals, problems and symptoms honestly in order to guide the treatment. Come book a session with us and let us assist in you crushing your goals.