Sports Massage is an integral process in maintaining good levels of performance within Sport. Elite teams as well as casual players benefit from regular treatment and it has been shown to improve individual and team performance.
Sports Massage Benefits
A high quality sports massage can reduce the risk of injury and enhance recovery periods. It can release muscle tension and help to minimise muscle imbalances in the body brought about by the specific movement within the sport. Massage is also essential for the rehabilitation of soft-tissue injuries, such as muscular tears.
For example, in Football the physical nature of the sport leads to potential muscle imbalances. Particularly around the hips and hamstrings.
Most players have dominancy in one leg, which creates huge reaction forces that affect the kicking leg, whilst the opposite leg should stabilise and control the motion. Players muscles often fatigue too quickly or have limited ability to de-accelerate the leg during the kicking movement or during sprints. This can lead to hamstring tears and groin strains. Sports massage to the specific muscles which are shortened and overworked will reduce the risk of this occurring. This helps create more flexibility in these specific muscles groups which also helps promote muscle firing and allows good joint range in order to strengthen the weaker areas.
Repetitive use of muscles causes fibres to bunch up and form areas of adhesions which lead to overall muscle stiffness. The layers of tissue can become bound down and significantly restrict joint movement. Muscle strength throughout the entire joint range can be affected, leading to certain dysfunctional movement patterns. Identification of the poor movement patterns is necessary for preventing injury to tissue.
When is Sports Massage needed?
Within Sport, different applications of massage are used depending on matches and training schedules. Lighter sports massage can be used either straight after competing or in the following 24-48 hours to aid in recovery. Sports Massage within this period will aid the removal of waste products from the muscles and increase blood flow to increase oxygen and nutrient delivery, therefore, decreasing muscle aches. This will also decrease the likelihood of muscular tiredness symptoms. No deep tissue work is usually necessary at this time as the body is still recovering from performance.
Deep tissue massage can be used during the week leading up to a competition leaving at least two days prior as it may sometimes aggravate symptoms temporarily. It is applied to specific regions and designed to alleviate muscle stiffness, spasm and pain and promote tissue health. This allows the body to recover and allows the physiological adaptations to take place so that performance at the highest level can take place.
Sports Massage aids body awareness and by receiving treatment educates individuals by learning specific exercises and stretches that will lead to improved performance and reduce the risk of injury.