sports massage 101: everything you should know

 In Lincoln Park

It’s common to think that a sports massage is only suitable for Olympians or professional athletes, but it’s time to debunk that misconception. Even if you consider yourself an amateur runner or hit the gym every so often, a sports massage is ideal for you, too. Any type of physical activity puts an enormous amount of strain on our muscles, and it is critical to treat injuries as well as take preventive measures. Here is what you should know about sports massages:

Definition
“Sports massage is a form of bodywork geared toward participants in athletics. It is used to help prevent injuries, to prepare the body for athletic activity and maintain it in optimal condition, and to help athletes recover from workouts and injuries. Sports massage has three basic forms: pre-event massage, post-event massage, and maintenance massage.” (Encyclopedia.com)

Technique
A sports massage will not be the same for all clients. Depending on what type of activity you do, the massage therapist will focus on muscles that have seen large amounts of stress or strain. These are muscles that go through repetitive and aggressive movements as a part of the sport or activity. As stated before, there are three basic forms of a sports massage: pre-event massage, post-event massage and maintenance massage. Here is what each technique entails:

  • Pre-event Massage
    Consists mainly of brisk effleurage (light stroking using the palms or thumbs) to warm the muscles and petrissage (two-handed kneading) to help muscles move easily and reduce muscle tension. The therapist will increase pressure during the massage so that the muscles begin to contract and flex. The part of the body being massaged varies from sport to sport, although leg and back muscles are common targets for this type of massage.
  • Post-event Massage
    For maximum benefit, a post-event massage is usually given 1 to 2 hours after the competition is over giving a chance for dilated blood vessels to return to normal. It conisists of light and gentle strokes in order not to damage stressed muscles. The goal is to recovery time and alleviate strains and soreness.
  • Maintenance Massage
    Maintenance massage is performed at least once a week while the athlete is in training. The back and legs are common targets. Deep effleurage and petrissage are used to relax and tone tight muscles.

Benefits
Here are some of the many benefits that a sports massage can provide: stimulates the flow of blood and nutrients to the muscles, reduces muscle tension, keeps the tissues loose allowing the muscles to easily slide over each other, alleviates strains and soreness, reduces the development of scar tissue, increases flexibility and range of motion.

Anyone who does some type of physical activity on a regular basis should consider adding a sports massage into their monthly routine. If you would like to speak further if sports massage therapy is right for you, we would be happy to assist.