As if getting a massage wasn't great enough, another excuse to get a sports massage is to reduce injury in your hardworking muscles. Getting regular sports massage can reduce tension, increase blood flow and elasticity in muscle tissue, and reduce or eliminate muscle soreness, making training more beneficial. On top of that, it just feels good!
What Is Sports Massage?
Sports massage is different from other types of massage in that it generally focuses on the problem area where injury has occurred or where there is centralized pain, rather than a full-body rub down. Sports massage is a type of Swedish massage, and it is characterized by gentle to firm pressure, with some deeper tissue strokes in particular areas that carry stress. At a spa, you will generally find that the therapist will spend some time massaging your entire body, but focusing on the target area for the bulk of the time. The therapist will apply firm pressure to the problem areas to benefit muscles and reduce injury or encourage recovery and rehabilitation.
Regular sports massage can be used to treat DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) related muscle aches and soft tissue pain, so you can maintain a rigorous training schedule. Sports massage is used to increase flexiblility, which in turn can reduce the occurrence of injury. For example, if your hamstrings and glutes are tight, you are more susceptible to lower back pain. Massage to the back of the legs improves blood flow to the muscles, speeding recovery and reducing the likelihood of injury.
Many athletes find that this improved flexibility and increased range of motion from sports massage results in improved performance and ability in their sport. Massage helps stretch muscles in ways that can't be acheived by your standard stretching techniques. Combining sports massage with regular stretching ratchets up flexibility more than stretching alone.
Sports massage pushes blood into the muscles, and with it, more oxygen and nutrients that are needed for post-training recovery. Fully recovered muscles are crucial to improving muscle strength and to avoiding injury the next time you train. The massage therapist will likely find knots or trigger points in the muscles and be able to work those out of the muscles to keep them supple and ready for more.
Rehabilitation after Injury
Despite your conscientious work at warming up, cooling down and stretching, sometimes injuries are accidental and unavoidable. Sports massage can get you back in the game sooner than you would think. The improved blood flow from sports massage speeds recovery and can even help push fluid build up out of the injured area. Sports massage also helps to reduce the presence of scar tissue that has already occurred. You'll gain benefits in muscles that work hard to compensate for the injured body part. Ligaments in the knee and ankle work overtime if you are limping due to shin splints or hamstring strains. Keeping those muscles and tendons flexible and relaxed is important to avoid further injuring the affected body part. Above all, massage helps keep injured body parts moving.
Incorporating sports massage into your training regimen is an excellent way to keep your muscles in top shape and to improve recovery post-workout or due to injury. When all is said and done, you're sure to find it easy to relax and recover physically and mentally as well!