Techniques for sports massage are designed to alleviate swelling and tension in the soft tissues, reduce the risk of athletic injury, and promote flexibility in an athlete’s muscles. Sports massage is commonly utilized to help athletes not only during athletics, but also before and after competition. It may help with athletic warm up to prevent injury as well.
However sports massage therapy can help anyone, not just competitive athletes. Weekend warriors and amateurs alike can benefit, and the benefit spans from kids all the way into geriatrics.
A sports massage therapy session begins with a brief consultation during which the massage therapist discusses the patient’s history and concerns and creates a program tailored to the patient’s needs. The massage is designed to address soft tissue problems increasing circulation and improving function. During the session, the work being done may be slightly painful to the patient at times especially if a myofascial release technique is included along with less forceful techniques.
Because different sports work different muscle groups, the massage therapist will adjust the massage according to the particular sport being played. During the sports massage, the patient is comfortably situated on the padded table and the sports massage therapist will use a variety of techniques to focus on specific muscle groups.
The massage typically starts with rhythmic stroking movements to relax the patient and allows the massage therapist to identify tense and tender areas, including muscles, ligaments, and tendons. In addition to these, the massage therapist works on the fascia, which is the anatomic covering of the muscle itself. Working on that region may allow for pain reduction and improved function.
As the massage goes on, the sports therapist works on deeper tissues and uses a kneading motion to increase circulation and stretch muscles. Finally, the masseuse may incorporate forceful grasping and stretching motions which can separate and break down the injured tissues.
The therapist can also potentially include techniques like heat/ice to stimulate injured tissues, lengthen contracted muscles, decrease scar tissue, and alleviate trigger points.
Sports massage therapy is a safe noninvasive form of care that can help athletes reduce the risk of injury, speed recovery and healing from injury, and optimize health. Acute and chronic conditions may benefit substantially from sports massage. A continuing care plan may be recommended to ensure longer lasting benefits.