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A Sports Massage usually involves the application of specific and treatment oriented techniques to help athletes prepare their bodies for optimal performance, recover after a big competition or intense training, and to function well during training. It also improves endurance, reduces fatigue, and increases body flexibility. The massage usually emphasizes prevention and healing of minor and major injuries inflicted on muscles and tendons. A sports massage is usually done either on-site at an event or the team or host’s health care clinic.
Various sports massage techniques are commonly performed for pre-event, inter-event, and post event and restorative/training massage.
Pre-Event Sports Massage
This type of massage is done shortly before the competition/training, usually 20-30 minutes before. The massage takes about 5-20 minutes. Pre-event sports massage is done for several reasons:
• To reduce athletes’ anxiety or competition stress
• To boost the athletes’ confidence ahead of the competition
• To encourage readiness and general relaxation
• To enhance mental preparation including focus and visualization
• To increases mental clarity and alertness
Pre-event massage basically helps the athlete get ready for the event.
Inter-Event Sports Massage
The Inter-event massage is usually done in between the events on the same day and takes about 2-15 minutes. The massage helps the athletes cool down right after engaging in a sports activity or training and gets them ready for the next round. Inter-event sports massage;
• Assists in reducing the effects of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)
• Helps keep the athletes’ muscles warm
• Helps athletes achieve maximum muscle and joint flexibility
The massage encourages better performance as it also motivates the athletes.
Post-Event Sports Massage
Post-event massage is usually done right after the completion of the event to help the athletes cool down, relax, and recuperate. The massage helps;
• Reduce the recuperative period after completion of the event
• Reduce inflammatory markers that minimizes the effects of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness(DOMS)
• Identify prospective new/prospective injuries
The massage gets the athletes in good shape in preparation for oncoming events.
Restorative/Training Sports Massage
Restorative or training sports massage is done to;
• Assess and treat new minor injuries before they become worse
• Allows athletes to recuperate from their everyday training load
• Relieves tender spots before they become worse
• Reduces the risk of injury
It boosts athletes’’ performance and improves their motivation and confidence to face the upcoming challenges.
Overall Benefits of Sports Massage
Sports massage has a number of benefits for athletes- both physical and physiological.
For physical benefits, sports massage helps;
• Improve tissue elasticity
• Increase tissue permeability which encourages take-up of oxygen and nutrients
• In the breakdown of scar tissue which improves performance and flexibility of tissue that are prone to injury and pain
• Open micro-circulation which increases blood flow to the tissue
Physiological benefits of sports massage include;
• Muscle relaxation which reduces fatigue and stress
• Pain reduction as the massage helps reduce muscle tension.
Sports massage generally plays a crucial role in helping athletes reduce injuries and promote fast recovery while preparing their body and mind for optimal performance. Just like any other massage technique, it promotes the overall well-being and it’s basically the perfect therapy for athletes of different classes- from weekend joggers to world-class professionals.