From beginner athletes to athletic competitors, massage therapy offers a variety of important health benefits. Individuals who participate in regular exercise and athletic programs who seek enhanced performance, improved conditioning, faster recovery, injury prevention and assistance in maintaining peak fitness can benefit from massage therapy.
Sports massage can be used pre-performance, post-performance, during training or for rehabilitation (amtamassage.org) This type of massage is a systematic manipulation of the soft tissues of the body that focuses on muscles relevant to a particular sport. Many different movements and techniques are used in sports massage. Examples of these techniques include; Swedish style massage, effleurage (stroking), petrissage (kneading), compression, friction, tapotement (rhythmic striking), vibration, gliding, stretching, percussion and trigger points. These movements and techniques are used to try to help the athlete's body achieve maximum performance and physical conditioning with a decreased chance of injury or pain and a quicker recovery (verywellfit.com).
The benefits of sports massage span not only to the body, but the mind as well. Along with both physiological and psychological benefits, sports massage helps to: increase blood flow, range of motion, elimination of lactic acid and flexibility as well as decrease in muscle spasms, muscle tension and a decreased chance of injury. The only possible side effects of sports massage are a tenderness or stiffness for one to two days after the massage due to the increase in release of lactic acid. Researchers have reported that deep massage after an intense workout actually causes muscles to enlarge and grow new mitochondria. Mitochondria, which are the powerhouses of our cells, are responsible for converting nutrients into useful energy. The deep pressure during massage may also improve overall blood flow and increase muscle temperature.
During the massage, the athlete will have a decrease in heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol levels. Many athletes have reported a feeling of pure relaxation, reduced anxiety, and improved mood as a result (verywellfit.com). Whether you are a runner, cycler, cross fitter, body builder or just your average gym goer, your main goal is to better your overall muscle and body health through exercise and athletic activity. As much as your muscles need the continual performance, they also need the relief and the chance to recover to the fullest extent.
By adding sports massage to your lifestyle and overall routine, your body and muscles will thank you and show you that thanks through increased performance.