What is Sports Massage 

It is a type of massage therapy which utilises deep tissue techniques, with the aim of reducing muscular tension, discomfort and pain.  Although sports participants benefit from sports massage this method of massage isn’t restricted to sports participants as the deep tissue massage techniques can be used to treat a variety of conditions such as:

  • Muscular and joint injures such as sprains and strains
  • Postural related pain
  • Headaches
  • Whiplash
  • Golfers and tennis elbow
  • Repetitive strain injuries
  • Back pain

Typically sports massage techniques are fast-paced and incorporate stretching and compression movements.  A sports massage therapist will use a variety of deep tissue techniques throughout a treatment which involve longitudinal stripping, friction techniques, tapotement and muscle energy techniques such as PNF stretching, active movement and trigger point compression.

These techniques are used to warm the muscles up to increase blood circulation and to reduce muscle tension.

although sports massage therapy treatment can be tailored to the needs of a sports participant who is just about to compete in an event or, who has just completed an event, sports or deep tissue massage can also be used to treat injures or muscular pain and discomfort, by promoting both physiological and psychological benefits.

Benefits of Sports Massage

The following can be experienced through the application of sports and deep tissue massage techniques:

  • Reduction in muscle tension
  • Increase range of motion leading to enhanced performance
  • Decreased muscle stiffness and soreness after exercise or physical activity
  • Reduced recovery time post injury
  • Increased levels of relaxation and reduction in physical and psychological stress levels
  • aids sleep quantity and quality

These benefits are largely the result of an increase in local blood circulation which helps to flush out chemical irritants and waste products which have stored up within the muscle.  At the same time, fresh blood flow increases within the muscle.  This in turn can help with muscle repair and leads to a reduction in muscle tension.

Compression techniques can also influence blood flow and nerve reflexes within the muscle, which when stimulated leads to a relaxation effect within the muscle itself.

When a muscle is tight it can irritate nerve receptors within the muscle. This in turn can lead to feelings of muscular pain and discomfort.  Therefore, reducing muscular tension can lead to a reduction in nerve irritation and a reduction in muscular pain and discomfort.

Reducing muscle tension and increasing localised blood flow can lead to an increase of range of movement around the associated joint. This is good news for sports and fitness participants as increased range of movement is linked to increased sports performance and reduction in injury rates.

Treatment provided post event, can help to reduce recovery rate through increased circulation, which helps to further reduce the concentration of waste products and increase oxygen and nutrient content within the muscle.

When used to treat a specific injury, massage can help to promote healing, by increasing nutrient and oxygen levels and reducing any excessive swelling associated with injury.  Manual massage techniques can also help to align new collagen formation within the muscle which can lead to improved realignment of scar tissue and a reduction in the risk of re-injury.

Finally, whether this is a result of a placebo effect (thinking that there should be a change), taking time out for yourself, or from the physical reduction of pain and muscular tension; massage therapy has been found to reduce daily stress and anxiety levels.  This in turn can lead to increased quality and quantity of sleep which is essential for daily living.

In summary, Sports Massage Therapy has many benefits and can aid sports and fitness participants, people with an active life or job and those who are experiencing muscular tension and pain through work related activity, lifestyle or injury.

Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.

Tim Notke