Sports massage is rather reserved to the high level competitors to maintain good health and ensure high performance, but it can be beneficial for anyone practicing a sport regularly, or even occasionally. It is also good for enthusiasts who wish to keep in shape.
Why Do We need Sports Massage?
It can be done before the practice of sport, in practice during a break, but it is the most useful after an intensive effort, be it intensive training before competition or after a competition to maintain muscles health. When the athlete is massaged before a physical effort this allows him to eliminate the competition stress, to warm up the muscles and to generally prepare the athlete to be in better condition and to prevent injuries and avoid pain that may occur. It may happen that a massage is necessary during a break to relieve a cramp. We see it all the times during prolonged tennis matches, when the athletes take a short break for muscles adjustments.It is strongly recommended after a sports competition in order to eliminate toxins accumulated in muscles. It will allow to avoid the tension and aches that can appear in the next hours or the next day. It will accelerate the recovery phase.
The Sports Massage Techniques
The ideal massage session after the effort should last approximately half an hour. It must take place in a calm place with an average temperature so that the athlete can relax to the maximum. Several techniques are used. Based on the desired effect, we may choose friction with specific oils or much milder massage consisting of effleurage. Depending on the time we give the massage, before or after the competition, or during a break, we can target different objectives, hence the techniques will be different. Before a competition we shall perform rapid moves but not too deep, this will warm up muscles and stimulate them in order to perform. After a competition, you need long, slow motion techniques to allow the athlete to fully relax and calm muscles. Compression techniques can be performed if the athlete needs it. For a cramp during a competition, assisted stretching, deep compression and friction help the cramp go away.
The sports massage is always complemented with hydrotherapy or hot cold therapy. However this is tricky, especially when it comes to sports injuries and if not applied correctly can do more damage than good. An example is the famous R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) theory which works great after competition or intensive training. However, if the competitor needs to perform after the injury occurred the muscle needs to stay warm, so R.I.C.E. will be contraindicated.
Benefits of Sports Massage
This type of massage has the following beneficial effects:
- Before effort, provides a warm up and stimulation.
- Promotes blood and lymph circulation.
- After effort contributes to the relaxation of the muscles. It is therefore helpful for staying in shape and aids athletes to perform at their highest potential.