If you were driving your car to Sydney every day, wouldn’t it make sense to service it more regularly? Well the same thing applies to your body. Whether it be completing an 8 week challenge with your local gym, training for a 5km fun run or simply walking your dog a couple of times per week, sports massage is beneficial on a physical, physiological and psychological level. So what exactly is a ‘sports massage’?
There are many overlapping techniques that are used in both sports massage and general massage, often the difference lies in the client’s reason for seeking treatment as well as the treatment goals, ranging from warm up massage, injury prevention and management or to speed up recovery time.
Here are some reasons why the everyday warrior like you should have a sports massage.
1. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)
The muscle soreness you feel post exercise. It normally starts 12 hours post exercise and peaks at around 48hours. It is thought to occur due to residual chemicals in the muscles after exercise and local inflammation that occurs as a result. Research shows that normal muscle strength resumes faster with sports massage then without. Additionally, massage increases the flow of lymphatic fluid- the system responsible for removing metabolic waste from the cells and back into the bloodstream for excretion from the body. Muscle length restored and waste gone, equals less muscle soreness and increased recovery time.
2. Injury Recovery
Whether it’s a muscle strain or ligament sprain, sports massage can aid in recovery and get your body back to participating in the activity or sport you love sooner. This is achieved by reorganising scar tissue, removing inflammation, restoring the resting length of the sarcomere (returning the muscle to its optimal length), improving joint range of motion, and improving activation of muscles that surround the injured site so as to support the injury.
3. Injury Prevention
A sports massage can complement a good warm up by ‘waking-up’ the muscles and ensuring they are primed and ready. A muscle that has been warmed up appropriately for exercise will be at its most flexible, therefore least likely to suffer injury.
4. Performance Enhancing (in a legitimate way)
Research suggests that elements of an athlete’s performance can be improved by massage. Examples include vertical jumps for basketball players and improving grip strength for various sports like tennis and weight lifting.
5. Boost your overall Health
A link has been found between post-exercise massage and boosting the body’s immune system. A win for the winter months where general coughs and colds can prevent you from participating in training or your favourite event.
6. Psychological Benefits
Research has shown a positive association between massage and improving mood as well as reducing anxiety. Whether an elite athlete or an everyday warrior, this is beneficial by improving motivation, staying focused during training or an event and potentially helping improve the mental stamina required to achieve set goals.
All in all, sports massage can affect how you move, how much pain you feel, how you think and potentially how happy you feel. Everyone can benefit from a sports massage, because everyone, elite athlete or not, would like to move better, feel better, be more positive and be happier. So, like that car, look after your body, and your body will look after you!