What is a sports massage?
Sports massage is a form of massage involving the manipulation of soft tissue. Soft tissue is the connective tissue that has not hardened into bone and cartilage. This includes the skin, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and fascia.
Sports massage can assist in correcting problems and imbalances within the soft tissue that are caused by repetitive and strenuous physical activity and trauma. The application of sports massage before and after exercise may enhance performance while aiding recovery and preventing injury.
Although sports massage is aimed at people who regularly push their bodies through strenuous exercise, it can benefit anyone with aches and pains. If you are running around after small children, have a physically demanding job, or a very static job where the body becomes stiff and sore, then a regular sports massage may help you.
What is a sports massage good for?
• Relax your muscles
• Fight fatigue
• Relieve any swelling you have around your joints
• Boost circulation and the immune system so that the body heals more quickly
• Improve your flexibility and body strength
• Reduce your heart rate and blood pressure
• Increase your circulation and lymph flow
• Make it easier for you to recover more quickly after you’ve done strenuous exercise
• Make it less likely you’ll get more injuries by getting rid of the tension in the muscles
What to expect from a sports massage?
The strokes used in sports massage are almost always directed towards the heart. This is a technique designed to increase blood and lymph flow. The therapist sometimes massages you with shorter strokes in the opposite direction which is designed to stretch the muscle fibers.
A massage will begin with a variety of stroking movements usually carried out with the whole palm of the hand and the fingers. They will then use a technique called ‘petrissage’ which is a kneading movement designed to work on deeper tissues while stretching muscle fibers and aid relaxation.
After this comes the ‘frictions’ technique, which aims at breaking down lesions and scar tissue while separating muscle fibers. Frictions might feel uncomfortable or even slightly painful, so never be afraid to tell your therapist to go more gently on particularly sore areas.