The Benefits of Sports Massage
Posted on 31st March 2022 at 16:14
As a sport massage therapist there are so many positive outcomes when either performing or receiving sport massage.
Sports massage is manual manipulation of the muscles geared specifically towards helping people who have physically demanding lifestyles and/or hobbies. This kind of therapeutic massage considers the impact of certain activities on specific joints, muscle groups, tendons, ligaments, and soft tissue groups.
What does sport massage do?
So, know we’ve defined sports massage, what exactly does it do? Well, there are many benefits to sports massage.
Sports massage promotes relaxation
Sport massage allows the client to feel relaxed for the time that they have booked. It helps relieve stress and relax people, as well as feeling an overall physical benefit.
77% of people experience stress that affects their physical health. Sports massage is a way to control this. Stress causes the muscles to tense and become stiff, causing a higher chance of injury.
Massage will help relax the muscles and allow the client to feel less tense. Massage does this by decreasing cortisol, which is the stress hormone. This will automatically make the client feel less stressed and more relaxed as the treatment goes on.
Massage also increases the hormones serotonin and dopamine: these hormones help to stabilise moods. By decreasing the stress hormone, it should also lead to a more stabilised sleep pattern.
Getting a massage also reduces stress by relaxing the muscles and soft tissues in the body. The way that massage does this is by increasing the temperature and blood circulation throughout the body. The increase of temperature is stimulated by friction against the skin. Increased circulation delivers more blood to the muscles removing waste products and relieving tension.
When the client has a stressful job or life it is important that the therapist factors that into the massage. The client may have heightened shoulders full of tension because they never relax, or they may struggle with tension headaches. Massaging the shoulders, pectorals and neck will release the tension caused by stress. This could take a couple of sessions before the muscle memory happens. Working through the head and deep into the neck releases all the tension that needs to be removed.
Sports massage can improve flexibility
Sport massage can also help with flexibility. Flexibility is important to everyone as it helps improve mobility, posture, and muscle coordination, while also reducing the risk of injury and soreness.
It also increases muscle temperature, reducing restriction and increasing elasticity. Reducing restriction through sports massage helps to increase flexibility in the muscles and joints. An example of a sport which will need flexibility is a kickboxer. Not having enough range of motion at the hip joint will mean that the kickboxer’s performance will be restricted and could potentially lead to injury. Sport massage would length the muscles such as the hamstrings to create a better range of movement for the athlete.
Removing lactic acid
Lactic acids and delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is what everyone tries to avoid having after exercise. If lactic acid gets stuck in the muscles it forms knots. If the knots are not seen to then more waste will get stuck to them making them larger. These knots can become painful and reduce range of movement. These knots need to be got rid of so that mobility is at its best and there is no pain for the client.
The sport massage therapist works to drain the muscles and get the waste and lactic acid cleared out. This can sometimes lead to the client having a runny nose or needing the toilet. If the lactic acid knots are not seen to, then it will cause soreness and tiredness. Not seeing to it quick enough can also lead to DOMS.
Massage treats DOMS by relieving pain and stiffness. This is done by the increase of blood flow and allowing normal movement and flexibility to be restored. This will also decrease the recovery time between exercise.
Reduces risk of injury
Sport massage decreases the chance of injury. Massage increases the temperature of collagen fibres, making it easier for the collagen to be broken down. Breaking down adhesions increases range of movement and decreases tightness, which helps prevent injury. Sport massage maintenance is used to maintain the body at a fit state for everyday life and exercise.
Sport massage therapists have a rewarding job. As a sport massage therapist, I get to see improvements in my clients every session. People normally come to the clinic for an injury or a concern which they have and want to get better. Some clients can come in at the start quite worried about the situation that they’re in and will do anything to get better.
The therapist will be able to see what they need to do to improve the problem and then will see what they’re doing at home or work which is making the problem worse. With three sessions in quick succession, the therapist will already start to see progress in the right direction for the client. This is positive for the client and the therapist.
Every person is different and will take their own time to get to the stage where maintenance massage comes in. Maintenance massage is just as important as the first massage. In order for the client to maintain the progress that has been made, maintenance massage is needed. Sport massage is all about muscle memory and it doesn’t take long for the muscle memory to go the wrong way if it’s not kept up with.
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