Sports massage was developed to help athletes prepare their bodies for optimal performance, recover after a big event, or function well during training. However, contrary to what the name suggests, you don't have to be an athlete to benefit from sports massage. Sports massage emphasizes prevention and healing of injuries to the muscles and tendons and can be beneficial for people with injuries, chronic pain or restricted range of motion.
What happens during sports massage?
There are four types of sports massages:
Pre-event sports massage: a short, stimulating massage 15-45 minutes before the event. It is directed toward the parts of the body that will be involved in the exertion.
Post-event sports massage: given within an hour or two of the event, to normalize the body's tissues.
Restorative sports massage: given during training to allow the athlete to train harder and with less injury.
Rehabilitative sports massage: aimed at alleviating pain due to injury and returning the body to health.
The therapist might use Swedish massage to stimulate circulation of blood and lymph fluids, trigger point therapy to break down adhesions, and stretching to increase the range of motion. Other techniques may include myofascial release and lymphatic drainage.
In sports massage, the massage therapist generally concentrates on a specific problem area that you present, usually associated with some sort of sports activity, such as running, tennis, or golf. The most important thing with sports massage is that you find a trained massage therapist who has mastery of a wide range of techniques and knows when to use them.