If your goal is to achieve top performance in your exercise regime, you might want to look to the habits of professional athletes. Professional basketball, football and tennis players, as well as athletes training for the Olympics, all rely on sports massage. They count on sports massage to soothe and strengthen their muscles. But, its not just for professional athletes anymore. Here we examine what a sports massage is, and what it can do for you.
What’s the Point of Sport Massage?
Sport massage refers to a very intense and penetrating massage intended to relax and loosen muscles. Specifically those muscles most used in whatever sport you perform. It has grown popular, and not just for professional football players and Olympic hopefuls. Anyone who wants to maximize their physical performance might consider a sports massage. The purpose of sports massage is manifold. Supporters of sport massage say it can reduce fatigue, reduce swelling, ease tense muscles, increase flexibility and prevent injuries.
Athletes often rely on this form of massage before, during and after their performances. Sports massage has also been heralded as an restorative aid for people with injuries, chronic pain or restricted range of motion.
Different Kinds of Sport Massage
One of the differences between sports massage and a regular relaxation-based massage is that sports massage is focused on the specific muscles groups used in individual sports play. A football player will need a great deal more chest and arm work than a runner. A masseuse can do this through any number of standard massage techniques, though the Swedish technique is most common.
Their are 4 kinds of sports massages: pre event, post event, restorative and rehabilitative. The first prepares you for your athletic performance; a short massage concetrated on the muscles about to be used. The next, post event, helps “normalize your body’s tissues” after heavy exertion. Many people believe this will help prevent soreness and stiffness. Restoritive massage is a maintenance massage given throughout a training period, to reduce body stress. Rehabilitative is meant to help with injury, restoring strength and reducing pain in hurt muscles.
How Does It Improve Your Performance?
Here is the tricky bit. Many athletes swear that their massage routines help their muscles become stronger and more pliant. They also believe regular massage of hurt muscles can help their injuries heal. The research isn’t so sure. There is very little hard evidence connecting sports massage to a decrease in muscle weakness, fatigue or injury. This isn’t to say massage is not helpful for an athlete. It is believed that pressure applied to muscles can increase range of motion and possibly decrease stiffness. Also, getting a massage makes you feel good. This results in lower heart rate, blood pressure and cortisol levels. Being relaxed and having less anxiety truly can help an athlete concentrate on their goals.
Recent research suggesting stretching and massaging is not as valuable a fitness tool as once thought. This has caused a lot of controversy in the professional sports world. No matter how much science is used to decry the benefits of sports massage, athletes of all skill levels still rely on it. Even if the results don’t always show up in the laboratory, sports massage continues to help athletes reach peak performance. Consider finding out if it can help you.