What is a Sports Massage?
A sports massage is the manipulation of soft tissue, which basically means using different massage techniques on skin, muscles, ligaments, tendons and fascia. Therapists tend to have their own preferences in performing the massage to meet the end goal - relieving stress and tension built up during physical activity. Over time people can experience pain from problems or imbalances caused by physical activity. Sports are a brilliant and necessary part of many people's lives, but it's often inevitable that pain or imbalance will show up in some form.
Sports massage aims to give people the ability to enhance their performance, prevent possible injury and aid faster recovery. It can last anywhere between 5 minutes and 2 hours. A footballer post-game might get a 5-10 minute massage whereas people recovering from sports injuries can go through a rehabilitation programme which can involve lengthy sessions over a long period of time.
Generally, anyone who takes part in sport at any level can benefit from regular sports massage sessions. That doesn’t mean sports massage is only for athletes, though – anyone who has a physically demanding job can see the benefits.
Benefits of Sports Massage
The American Massage Therapy Association (https://www.amtamassage.org/index.html) finds several studies which show that people receiving massage therapy had fewer headaches, sleep disturbances and distress symptoms. There was also an increase in serotonin levels which is believed to have a positive impact on mood, sleep and appetite. More than 12 studies also show signs that massage therapy can help towards relieving anxiety and depression. We can't make any guarantees, and you do need to make sure you see qualified therapists, but I have never heard someone tell me they've regretted getting a sports massage. You've probably heard of people raving about the benefits and how good they feel, too.
Sports Massage May Help Prevent DOMS
Almost every athlete experiences DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) within a day of exercise which can get worse between 24 and 72 hours after. Athletes get sports massages to stimulate the blood and lymph (fluid which helps to keep your tissue healthy) to flow through the body which can partially prevent DOMS. In one Australian study “massage was effective in alleviating DOMS by approximately 30%” and also reduced swelling. That can make a massive difference to an athlete.