What is sports massage?
Sports massage uses hands-on techniques to manipulate the muscles, tendons and ligaments in the body. Sports massage works to improve the efficiency of the musculoskeletal system and is increasingly popular amongst elite sports performers.
Benefits of sports massage
Sports massage has been proven to be effective for releasing and reducing tension in the muscles, improving circulation, encouraging the removal of waste products such as lactic acid and stimulating or suppressing nerve activity. Massage also helps to mentally prepare the athlete for the activity ahead. Massage can be effective for all stages of the performer’s participation including the preparation, training, competition and recovery stages. Massage also helps to relax the body after exercise which can prevent injury. Sports massage is highly beneficial for those athletes who are prone to overuse injuries, as the muscles are allowed to relax and recover fully before the next exercise session; examples of these injuries include golfer’s and tennis elbow and thrower’s shoulder.
When should sports massage be avoided?
Sports massage can be extremely effective in preparing an athlete for exercise as well as a recovery aid; however, there are instances where massage can be detrimental. Usually, massage should be avoided if the athlete is suffering from an illness or infection or has been diagnosed with a serious health condition such as cancer or haemophilia. Massage is usually not advisable for those who suffer with diabetes.
Types of massage technique
Effleurage: effleurage is a gentle technique which involves a series of stroking and touching movements; this technique helps to increase circulation, warm the muscles and stimulate the nerves. This technique is used at the start of massage sessions to ease the athlete in gently.
Petrissage: petrissage is a more intense form of massage movement which is designed to stretch the muscles and ease tension. This technique is also known as kneading.
Frictions: frictions are often fairly painful as they are used to separate muscle fibres and break down scar tissue. This technique is only used for very short periods of time