Sports massage is a area of sports science that is receiving increased recognition for the benefits it can deliver to the sportsmen and women of all ages and abilities.
It has been well documented that sports massage therapy will help to prevent injuries and loss of mobility, repair and restore mobility and flexibility to injured muscle tissue and boost performance. Generally sports massage treatments will help to maintain a better body condition and extend the overall life of your sporting career. Sports massage therapy is an effective technique for the rehabilitation of sports injuries for both amateur and professional athletes.
All sportsmen and women, irrespective of their age, condition or performance level, will derive real benefits from sports therapy – physical, physiological and psychological.
- Pressure – The stroking movements used by the therapist during deep tissue massage cause fluid to be pulled through the blood vessels and lymph vessels. The increased pressure in front of the stroke creates a vacuum behind and it is this effect which is especially important in tight or damaged muscle tissue as a tight muscle will squeeze blood out like a sponge, thereby depriving the tissues of vital nutrients and the energy to repair itself.
- Increased tissue permeability – The deep massage technique causes the pores in tissue membranes to open, enabling fluids and nutrients to pass through much more efficiently. This aids the removal of waste products such as lactic acid and encourages the muscles to take up oxygen and nutrients which help them recover more quickly.
- Stretching – Sports massage can stretch tissues that could not be stretched by employing the usual methods. In the course of a treatment bundles of muscle fibres are stretched lengthwise as well as sideways. Massage can also stretch the sheath or fascia that surrounds the muscle, thereby releasing any tension or pressure build up within the area.
- Break down scar tissue – Scar tissue is the result of previous injuries or trauma and can affect muscles, tendons and ligaments. This can lead to inflexible tissues that are prone to injury and pain. The healing process is therefore enhanced by breaking down scar tissue and other sports injuries may be prevented altogether.
- Improve tissue elasticity – Hard training can make tissues hard and less elastic. This is one reason why hard training may not result in anticipated physical improvements being realised . Massage helps reverse this by softening and stretching the tissues and improving elasticity which can in turn lead an overall improvement in performance.
- Opens micro-circulation – Just as exercise increases blood flow to soft tissue, so does massage therapy. However, sports massage also opens or dilates the blood vessels and by stretching them this enables nutrients to pass through more easily.
- Pain reduction – Muscle tension and waste products in muscles can often cause pain. A massage therapist helps reduce this in many ways, including by manipulation of soft tissue which release the body’s endorphins.
- Relaxation – Muscles relax through heat generated, circulation and stretching. Mechanoreceptors which sense touch, pressure, tissue length and warmth are stimulated, thereby causing a reflex relaxation and the release of muscle tension.
- Anxiety reduction – Through the effects mentioned above, a state of relaxation is induced, resulting in reduced levels of anxiety and increased comfort.
- Invigorating – When massage is performed utilising brisk movements, as would happen before an event, then this can produce an invigorating feeling ahead of a sporting activity.