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Sports Massage: What It Is, Benefits, And What To Expect

Massage therapy is practiced in many distinct ways throughout the world. If you’ve had a massage before, you’ve most likely already experienced one or more techniques used in sports massage.

Here at Soothe, this is another featured massage we offer. We love offering sports massage for our Soothe clients because it includes two of our favorite massages: Swedish massage and Deep Tissue massage. If you wish, a sports massage can also include percussive instruments as well.

A sports massage can serve a handful of different purposes, from relaxing the entire body and improving mobility to pain relief caused by injuries. Through Soothe, you can book an appointment with a licensed massage therapist specializing in this type of massage.

What Is Sports Massage?

Sports massage is one of the most popular and frequently utilized massage types worldwide. If you’re ready for your first massage, sports massage can be a great place to start. The sports massage treatment combines various massages into a single session to relieve pain, ease tension, and promote healing. In some scenarios, a full-body massage may be appropriate for this massage type.

Sports massages benefit athletes, bodybuilders, and anyone who lives an active lifestyle. For example, if you’re an athlete, sports massages are recommended during training. Getting a regular massage can help prevent injury and promote faster recovery. Massage treatment is a long-term solution for muscular performance and injury rehabilitation and prevention.

If you’re having pain in your neck or back, a sports massage may be a great way to begin reviving your body and mind. Since this massage is well known for relieving pain and improving injury, sports massage therapy can be relieving.

Sports Massage Techniques

Massage therapists may use a variety of methods to give a sports massage. What methods they choose will depend on your unique situation. Here are the some of the most common sports massage techniques:

  • Effleurage – These are simple strokes done with the palms of the hands in a push away from the heart to promote blood flow. Effleurage is used to start your massage, as it helps the muscles warm up. It’s also used to soothe your muscles at the end of your massage. 
  • Petrissage – Kneading movements are common in this method. Petrissage helps in muscle recovery. The massage therapist will usually compress your soft tissues in a rhythmic fashion. The most common ways of performing petrissage include kneading, wringing, rolling, and lifting. This will help the muscles stretch and loosen. 
  • Tapotement – For stimulation, tapping and cupping muscles are used. This is typically done in pre-event massages. Drumming or tapping is what tapotement refers to. The massage therapist will use rhythmic tapping to stimulate blood flow across the body.
  • Friction – Sports massages often use friction movements, and it’s an effective technique for repairing injuries because it targets the muscle tissues. Effleurage should be used before a friction massage to warm up the muscles. This technique involves rubbing on the massage area using the thumbs or fingers. The massage therapist may apply pressure in a circular area or linear. This rubbing can soften and realign your muscles. This technique is great for those of you who may have joint pain or struggle to move your joints.
  • Vibration – The fast vibrations relax and soothe the muscles. This technique involves rhythmic shaking of the area being massaged. This will loosen up your body and help your muscles relax.

Ensure you communicate with your therapist and tell them exactly how you feel. This will help them choose the best techniques for you.

What Happens During A Sports Massage?

The first thing to understand is that you can get one at any time, but they can be especially useful before or after you go through an active event with your body, such as a 5-mile run, sports game, MMA match, weight lifting, etc. While deep-tissue massage and sports massage techniques appear similar, the two have different focuses, so knowing which one can help you the most is important.

For example, if you were offered a sports massage vs. a deep tissue massage, the sports massage would probably take your physical activities into account, and the therapist would likely try to tailor the massage treatment to fit both the time and kind of activities you’re doing whereas a deep-tissue massage would be more about pressure and your overall lifestyle.

Each massage therapist has their own preferred techniques for providing a massage. However, there are several standard procedures that you may expect during a sports massage. We’ll cover those now.

Firstly, the massage therapist will lubricate your skin with massage oil or lotion to make it smoother and more pleasant. If you don’t want lotion, just let them know. Your practitioner will use different massage strokes and techniques depending on why you’re getting a sports massage.

These movements help your muscle tissues warm up, which helps to release tension and breaks up muscle “knots,” also known as adhesions. 

Soothe always encourages excellent client-therapist communication to obtain the greatest massage treatment. Before the treatment, the therapist will most likely inquire about any injuries or other issues he or she should be aware of. Let the massage therapist know how you’re feeling. You should tell them exactly what is hurting, painful, or tense so they can adjust their technique accordingly. If you have allergies or are pregnant, make sure to let them know.

You should also tell the massage therapist your preference for pressure, which may be light, moderate, or firm. The therapist will likely ask a series of questions to ensure you have the best experience possible. That’s why communication is so important. Soothe wants to make sure to meet all of your expectations. If you let your massage therapist know exactly what you want, he or she can make sure they deliver on that promise.

Origins Of The Sports Massage

Massage originated in Greece and Rome and has a long history (Cenacle Treatment Centre) as one of the world’s oldest healing techniques. Galen (AD 30-200), a renowned Roman physician, “recommended massage for gladiators both before and after training.” This is one of the first known instances of sports massage.

The modern history of sports massage can be traced back to the Paris Olympic Games in 1924 (Crist Chiropractic & Wellness, 2011). Finland’s Paavo Nurmi won five gold medals in the Olympic track event, receiving much credit for his victory from his regular personal massage therapist. Here in the United States, many people credit Jack Meagher as the one who introduced sports massage to the country.

Health Benefits

The physiological and psychological benefits of massage therapy are enormous. Massage is used to treat various ailments, including muscular imbalances, soft tissue damage, fluid buildup, high heart rate, blood pressure, restricted range of motion, pain, tiredness, anxiety, and injury prevention. It may also help with promoting blood flow and warming up muscles. Research studies have shown that subjects felt less fatigued and felt like they recovered faster after sports massage. Decreased anxiety, improved mood, better sleep, and enhanced feelings of well-being were also noted in the study.

This massage can also ease tension and anxiety, allowing the body to relax and recover from the strain of sports activity. It also aids in the removal of toxins and waste products during post-event periods by “calming the nervous system.” This massage also helps athletes get back into their workouts faster by reducing recovery time.

Massage therapy is shown to relax the body and release and reduce muscle tension during high-intensity exercise. It can also help to relax the body by relaxing the mind.

Personal Benefits

A sports massage is excellent for relieving pain and strains, but it may also aid in the relief of everyday stress. It’s no secret that stress can harm your health. Many people stress over work, relationships, children, parents, taxes, politics, inflation, etc. The more we stress, the more our muscles become tense, which can cause a number of issues down the road if left unaddressed.

The pressure utilized in sports massage therapy can help the muscles and relieve tension that has built up. Some people have said that skin contact relaxes them and aids in clearing their thoughts. Consider booking a deep tissue service if you like firm pressure during a massage.

Another advantage we’d like to mention is getting better sleep. Sleep is extremely crucial to one’s health; it helps the body and mind rest and recover. Getting adequate, good-quality sleep is beneficial to one’s overall well-being.

Since a sports massage can use Swedish massage techniques, it can help to relax your body. This relaxation can help promote better sleep; when performed in the evening, it may also help you fall asleep faster. 

How to Book a Sports Massage Near You

If you’re interested in booking a sports massage, Soothe makes it easy to find a certified massage therapist in your area. Book online or download the app to find a licensed sports massage professional near you.