The Importance of Sports Massage

by MassageJoy - December 16, 2018

Sports massage is a therapeutic massage treatment geared towards athletes. Repetitive strenuous activity and training can negatively impact the soft tissue and sports massage can help to not only alleviate the aches and pains from training, but also help rejuvenate the muscle tissue and prevent injury


Sports Massage


What is Sports Massage ?


Sports Massage

Athlete undergoing sports massage

Sports massage is a specific massage modality aimed at athletes and people who partake in strenuous physical activity. Sports massage is unique in that it targets specific areas of the body that are subjected to heavy, often vigorous, repetitive motion, such as running, martial arts or weightlifting.  It has proven therapeutic benefits for athletes all across the spectrum, from the professional football player to the weekend runner because it is individualized to target the athletes’ specific needs depending on their sport and training of choice. In the event of an injury, sports massage will vastly improve recovery time.

It is an important part of training and performance for every athlete to find a professional licensed massage therapist with sports massage experience. Scheduling regular massage appointments can not only improve results during training, but also reduce the likelihood of injury, as well as identify potential problems, such as the need to modify form, during certain movements.

Pre-event or pre-workout sports massage loosens the muscle tissues and myofascial layers enabling them to glide easily over each other, preventing stiffness and improving flexibility. Post-event sports massage is helpful in reducing swelling, known as edema, of the soft tissue resulting from micro-trauma, usually in the form of small tears in the muscle fibers.

Additional benefits include better overall performance, and improved range of motion, reduced joint stiffness, soft tissue repair, and promotion of muscle balance and flexibility.  Sports massage is a completely different therapy from traditional massage. While it can be relaxing and does have many of the same benefits as traditional massage, it is not your typical “day at the spa” experience. For targeted therapy, you can expect to be moved and stretched in a fashion that some compare to a chiropractic session.


What is Sports Therapy?


Sports Therapy

Sports therapy being performed on athlete

Sports therapy is considered to be therapeutic in nature, and naturally, it does not replace medical care. However, it is most certainly a valuable complement to medical care. When an athlete sustains injuries, medical treatment is usually given in conjunction with sports therapy sessions. This is due to the positive results experienced by the athlete.

It is also vital as a preventative measure which can help athletes avoid injury altogether. Evidence shows that receiving preventative treatment, such as sports massage, can prevent serious injury. The old adage certainly rings true “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. But even if injury has already been sustained, sports massage therapists are able to assist.

It cannot be denied that improved performance and rapid recovery time are among the most valued benefits experienced, and though the treatments are certainly not new, only in recent years have researchers begun to study and document the results of sports therapy.


Science behind Sports Massage


Science behind sports massage

Many of the benefits of having regular sports massage sessions as an athlete are easy to understand when looking at the science behind sports massage and body mechanics. When regular pre-workout, post-workout and maintenance sports massage sessions are kept up, the athlete is able to have lactic acid flushed from muscle fiber and assist in lymphatic system drainage. This also brings oxygenated blood to stressed and overworked tissues and rejuvenating the muscles with a fresh flow of nutrients and oxygen.

However it is important to understand that any physical activity, not just a sports massage, will help with improving circulation. Additionally your normal bodily functions will eventually eliminate the lactic acid and toxins from your body. Where sports massage becomes indispensable is when your sports massage therapist uses your body and your nervous system to reduce pain, stress and injury in the affected areas by employing special sports massage techniques.


Sports massage techniques (what happens during a sports massage)


When your therapist is deciding on the best treatment for you, they will look at your specific sport or activity and the muscle groups affected by it. Many of the techniques they use will be similar to other massage therapy techniques. However, this also includes more manipulative therapy. Your body may be moved and stretched in varied positions.

Many sports massage therapists have extensive knowledge of body mechanics and they can identify and correct problems in joints and muscles that if left untreated could negatively affect form and performance. They can spot a tight muscle group or sprain buy observing your altered gait.

With the training and knowledge sports massage therapists possess, they can easily utilize a variety of tools and techniques that will give you the best outcome and improved performance. You can expect a variety of techniques including;

  • Trigger Point Therapy
  • Effleurage
  • Circular Friction
  • Stripping


Some of the Many Benefits of Sports Massage


  • Reduced or Eliminated Pain
  • Reduced or Eliminated Swelling
  • Reduced or Eliminated Injuries
  • Improved Performance
  • Increased Flexibility
  • Reduced Soreness
  • Increased Blood flow
  • Improved Muscle Strains and Sprains
  • Rapid Recovery
  • Relaxation
  • Better Quality Sleep


Who should get a sports massage?


While it is generally athletes who are the targeted demographic for sports therapeutic massage, you may be surprised to find out that you could also benefit from regular sessions. Here is how you can tell if a sports massage is right for you.

If you have a very physically demanding job, anything requiring repetitive movement. Many factory workers have found improvements in job performance and pain relief by undergoing regular sports massage.  Even if your activity is part of your commute such as if you regularly walk, run, or jog. Or if you have a sports related hobby, such as swimming, tennis, or hiking.

The great thing about sports massage is how customizable it is in order to tailor the therapy and thus, the benefits, to the individual. While it is impossible to create a truly exhaustive list, here are some of the common candidates for sports massage therapy:

  • Runners and Joggers
  • Cyclists
  • Swimmers
  • Weightlifters
  • Football, Basketball and Cricket players
  • Wrestlers and Boxers
  • Hockey players and Ice Skaters
  • Construction workers
  • Painters, Carpenters and other laborers
  • Anyone with a physically demanding job requiring repetitive muscle exertion


The Basics of Sports Massage for Athletes


cyclist sports massage

As briefly mentioned before, there are primarily three target times for athletes to receive therapeutic sessions and there are reasons that each is important to the overall well-being and functionality of the athletic body;

Pre-activity, whether it be workout, training, races, or game day, these very demanding activities can take a toll on the muscles and musculoskeletal systems. Scheduling a pre-activity session with your sports massage therapist can vastly improve your body’s ability to perform better and avoid injury, sprains and strains. The lengthening of the muscle fibers and increased flexibility along with increased blood flow means that you can demand more from your body without causing damage.

Post-activity, similarly, after a big game or a long race, your muscles are overworked and tired. This can easily cause stiffness, soreness and swelling. It is essential that the overworked muscle tissue be treated with specific, customized massage that is the hallmark of sports massage. This will loosen the muscle tissue and relax the fibers allowing blood flow to remain optimal. It is especially helpful in alleviating Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, also known as DOMS. This usually occurs 12-24 hours after an event or game that was especially demanding.


Sports massage for non-athletes


As mentioned above, it is important to remember that you do not have to consider yourself an athlete to greatly benefit from sports massage therapy. A quick browse through hobby sports forums and groups on the internet readily shows that many who engage in sports such as dance or cycling have made sports massage a regular part of their regime and have seen the benefits first hand.

However this is a therapy that, despite its name, is certainly not isolated to sports. There are many occupations that are physically demanding in a similar way to athletics. If your occupation requires repetitive physical exertion and you often suffer from Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, or if sprains, strains or even injury are common to your work, then you should seriously consider scheduling an appointment with a sports massage therapist. Discuss your specific needs and concerns and have your session tailored to your body’s needs. This would not only improve your quality of life, but could very well be an investment that prevents injury or disability.


Is Sport Massage Different from Deep Tissue Massage?


Often confused with deep tissue massage, sports massage does utilize many of the same proven techniques and tools. Some of these include;

  • Trigger Point Therapy
  • Foam Rollers and Bolsters
  • Stainless steel tools for reaching deep myofascial layers
  • Effleurage
  • Petrissage

However, sports massage is generally customized to the type of activity or sport and quite often the focus for therapy is on the legs and back muscles as these tend to be the more heavily worked parts of the body for the activities in question.


Is Sports Massage Painful?


Massage therapy, even sports massage or deep tissue massage, should not be painful. It can be quite intense during a therapeutic session, however, the goal is to prevent pain and injury, not cause it. If a day after a massage session you feel tired, nauseous or sore, then you should definitely consult a professional massage therapist as these are not the symptoms caused by a professional massage. Always ensure you get your massage from certified, licensed and professional massage therapists.

Good communication is always a must, and if you are experiencing pain during therapy, let your therapist know so that they can adjust and modify their techniques to suit your needs. Every person is different and your therapist wants for you to get the most out of each session. They will gladly modify treatments to ensure that you receive the best care.


Finding a Sports Massage Near me


With your busy lifestyle and focus on training and performance it can seem overwhelming to find the right therapist especially a therapist who is nearby as you look for a massage near you. Thankfully, it has never been easier to find a highly qualified massage professional. At MassageJoy you can rest easy knowing that all our therapists are fully vetted and have the experience you need.

It has never been easier to schedule sessions, we offer the ease of online booking, flexible appointment options and our massage therapists come to your home, hotel or event for the session, making it more convenient than ever to get the treatment your body deserves. Nearly everyone enjoys a good massage, but it is more than that, it is an investment in your wellbeing. Finally we have a 200% guarantee – if you are unsatisfied with our treatment, we will come back to make it right or give you a full refund. Take your first step and book your mobile sports massage now.