What is a Sports Massage?
Sports Massages are great and effective ways to reduce potential muscle injuries and improve performances, especially for athletes. Sports Massages are a form of physical therapy that range over their focus and benefits depending on different techniques and for different benefits, from preventing injuries and preparing muscle for optimal physical exertion, to relaxing muscles and increasing circulation. Varying sports massages are used widely amongst athletes and depending on your requirements knowing a bit more about these types of sport massages could enhance your athletic performance.
Pre-event Sports Massages are used most frequently before high intensity events to reduce the risk of injury. It warms up muscles in order to prepare them for physical activity by stretching them and increasing the blood flow. It also helps reduce muscle tension and is psychologically beneficial by producing a feeling of readiness prior to the sports event.
Swedish Massages offer similar benefits as a Pre-event Sports massages by focusing on superficial muscle groups. This type of massage helps improve the circulation of blood and lymph, increases the levels of oxygen in the blood and decreases muscle toxins.
Both of these massages used as a gentle and light treatment to loosen up muscles and mentally relax the athlete are ideal for 10-20 minutes on the day of the sports event. However, for more benefits and earlier preparation for the day, a more thorough pre-event sports massage is advised for earlier in the week, but advice ranges between 3-5 days and 48 hours before the event. This is so that muscles are not risked being sore on the day, as newly stretched muscles are suggested to be less powerful immediately afterwards.
Post-event massages are another type of sports massage that have specific function for athletes. This massage is aimed at athletes that have just endured a lot of physical exertion, and so therefore their muscles will have changed state and will require a different treatment than prior the exercise.
During heavy exercise muscles suffer microtraumas that cause small amounts of swelling due to tiny tears in the muscle. Alongside stretching out muscles, this massage focuses on reducing the swelling by increasing blood flow to the muscles to remove lactic acid and waste build-up. This also helps reduce cramping, loosens stiff fatigued muscles and helps maintain flexibility. This is vital after heavy exercise to improve recovery time and to ensure that the following weeks are not impeded by damage to the muscle tissues.
Similarly to pre-event massages, Swedish massages would also be effective immediately post-event. However it is advised that deep-tissue massages should be implemented 3-5 days after high intensity exercises in order to have flushed out waste build-up and to have recovered from any soreness. As deep-tissue massages are more intense through deeper pressure and releasing chronic muscle tension this makes them ideal for preventing injuries in the long-term if you’re reaching optimal work-out levels and intense training.
Finally, maintenance massages are regular treatments throughout low and high levels of intensity training to consistently increase blood and nutrients flow to muscles. By undertaking maintenance massages often it’ll also help reduce the development of scarred muscle tissue and help further improve flexibility. It’s recommended that you have these at least once a week in order to maximise your athletic performance in the long-term.
Myofascial Release is a common type of physical therapy in the form of massage. Myofascial release is a hands-on technique that applies consistent pressure to myofascial connective tissue to reduce pain and soreness and enhance your flexibility. By effecting the connective tissue and muscle fibres this massage can be intense, alongside the benefits of increased blood flow and circulation, it is suggested to be undertaken twice a month by active athletes.
Similar effects from Sports massages can be replicated through the use of a foam roller, pressure ball, hand massage or electric muscle stimulator such as UGYM Sport. These treatments are administered independently and can therefore be used whenever you need. Using varying pressure through your own force or our UGYM sport massage modes you can experience gentle to intense muscle relaxation depending on your requirements. UGYM can also be a more time and cost effective alternative, saving you travel time and money on regular massage treatments that can be just as effectively treated yourself.
These massages are all effective physical therapies that reduce muscle pain, injury, lactic acid build up and potential long-term deterioration. Worked in alongside other treatments, such as spa remedies and personal trainer lead programmes, sports massages can assist you in muscle preparation in the long and short-term, de-stressing and relaxing muscles at varying intensities depending on your lifestyle and requirements. From this, physical therapy is as important as an athletes training, ensuring that your muscles are ready to carry you the whole way and back.