Athletes have discovered that specially designed sports injury massage promotes flexibility, reduces fatigue, improves endurance, helps prevent injuries and prepares their body and mind for optimal performance.
It is the position of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) that those who participate in exercise programs, as well as athletes in training, can benefit from massage therapy.
Benefits of Sports Injury Massage
The main purpose of sports massage therapy is to help alleviate the stress and tension, which builds up in the body’s soft tissues during physical activity.
Sports massage is a type of massage that can alleviate pain occurring in certain parts of the body, which can be caused by too much physical activity. This type of massage was originally developed to serve athletes as a way to prevent and relieve injuries, but both athletes and non-athletes can gain physiological and psychological benefits from receiving sports massage therapy.
The increased and enhanced blood circulation helps to relieve muscle tension, reduce soreness and make for a faster recovery. … It means that massage can help pain relief, build muscles and encourage their recovery as well. Not only does massage feel good on the muscle tissues, it actually is good for them.
Many injuries are brought about by overusing certain muscles. This can result in soreness, pain and inflammation. Regularly scheduled sports massages can help reduce the likelihood of the muscles becoming overused in the first place and can also help reduce the initial inflammation that leads to injury.
Sports massage works deep in the muscles, realigning the muscle fibers and connective tissue, and flushing away the toxins. Regular sessions will increase joint mobility and flexibility, and reduce the risk of injury during exercise.
Getting a massage before working out allows the muscles to get warmed up and stretched out. Receiving a massage after lets the body and muscles help relax a bit smoother and help with not being so sore. People would work out first, then get a massage. When you work out, your body releases lactic acid.
Sports massage can play an important part in the life of any sportsman or woman whether they are injured or not. Massage has a number of benefits both physical, physiological and psychological. It can help maintain the body in generally better condition, prevent injuries and loss of mobility, cure and restore mobility to injured muscle tissue, boost performance and extend the overall life of your sporting career.
Research has shown that in relation to exercise and athletic participation massage can:
- Reduce muscle tension 4, 18, 19
- Help athletes monitor muscle tone4, 19
- Promote relaxation4, 18, 19
- Reduce muscle hypertonicity4, 18, 19
- Increase range of motion4, 14, 18, 19
- Improve soft tissue function4, 18
- Support recovery from the transient immunosuppression state6
- Support the recovery of heart rate variability and diastolic blood pressure after high-intensity exercise.7
- Decrease muscle stiffness and fatigue after exercise8, 18, 19
- Improve exercise performance8, 9, 18, 19
- Decrease delayed onset muscle soreness10, 11, 13, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19
- Be the most efficient intervention for maintaining maximal performance time in subsequent exercise tests when combined with active recovery from maximal exercise12
- Reduce serum creatine kinase post exercise13
- Reduce swelling17, 19
- Reduce breathing pattern disorders18
- Enhance athletic performance4, 18, 19
- May help prevent injuries when massage is received regularly18,
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Pumping – The stroking movements in massage suck fluid through blood vessels and lymph vessels. By increasing the pressure in front of the stroke, a vacuum is created behind. This is especially important in tight or damaged muscle tissue as a tight muscle will squeeze blood out like a sponge, depriving the tissues of vital nutrients and energy to repair.
Increased tissue permeability – Deep massage causes the pores in tissue membranes to open, enabling fluids and nutrients to pass through. This helps remove waste products such as lactic acid and encourage the muscles to take up oxygen and nutrients which help them recover quicker.
Stretching – Massage can stretch tissues that could not be stretched in the usual methods. Bundles of muscle fibres are stretched lengthwise as well as sideways. Massage can also stretch the sheath or fascia that surrounds the muscle, so releasing any tension or pressure build up.
Break down scar tissue – Scar tissue is the result of previous injuries or trauma and can effect muscle, tendons and ligaments. This can lead to inflexible tissues that are prone to injury and pain.
Improve tissue elasticity – Hard training can make tissues hard and inelastic. This is one reason why hard training may not result in improvements. Massage helps reverse this by stretching the tissues.
Opens micro-circulation – Massage does increase blood flow to tissues, but so does exercise. What massage also does is open or dilate the blood vessels and by stretching them this enables nutrients to pass through more easily.
Pain reduction – Tension and waste products in muscles can often cause pain. Massage helps reduce this in many ways including releasing the bodies endorphins.
Relaxation – Muscles relax through heat generated, circulation and stretching. Mechanoreceptors (A mechanoreceptor is a sensory receptor that responds to mechanical pressure or distortion. Normally there are four main types in glabrous mammalian skin: lamellar corpuscles, tactile corpuscles, Merkel nerve endings, and bulbous corpuscles). which sense touch, pressure, tissue length and warmth are stimulated causing a reflex relaxation.
Anxiety reduction – through the effects mentioned above relaxation is induced and so reduces anxiety levels.
Invigorating – if massage is done with brisk movements such as what would be done before an event then this can produces an invigorating feeling.
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness Prevention
Sports massage therapy can prevent or relieve delayed onset muscle soreness. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, delayed soreness typically begins to develop 12 to 24 hours after the exercise has been performed. DOMS may produce the greatest pain between 24 and 72 hours after the exercise has been performed. Sports massage therapy prevents delayed onset muscle soreness by encouraging blood and lymph flow throughout the body, preventing muscle fatigue.
Stress and Pain Reduction
Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended as diagnosis, treatment, or prescription of any kind. The decision to use, or not to use, any information is the sole responsibility of the reader. These statements are not expressions of legal opinion relative to scope of practice, medical diagnosis or medical advice, nor do they represent an endorsement of any product, company or specific massage therapy technique, modality or approach. All trademarks, registered trademarks, brand names, registered brand names, logos, and company logos referenced in this post are the property of their owners.