The benefits of a sports massage
Recovery after a workout or playing sports is very important, whether you are starting out or playing your 100th match. We tend to think of massages as a way of relaxing, but sports massages are slightly different. We spoke with Arran, who is part of our sales team and is a qualified Sport Therapist [BSc (Hons) Sports Therapy] working with local sports teams. We asked him to explain more about Sports massages.
What is a sports massage?
A sports massage is a targeted deep tissue massage focusing on specific areas of the body to reduce muscle pain/tension/discomfort, preventing injuries, improving performance, providing relief and keeping you in-shape so that you can perform. Treatments are not meant to be painful, but you may feel some pain when the therapist is working on a specific spot on your body that has a lot of tension. This type of massage is actually beneficial for everyone, from office workers who spend a lot of time sitting in the same position, to sports athletes.
How does a sports massage work?
The targeted deep tissue massage that you receive from having a sports massage causes the pores in tissue membranes to open, enabling fluids and nutrients to pass through. This helps remove waste products such as lactic acid and encourage the muscles to take up oxygen and nutrients aiding a quicker recovery.
The benefits of a sports massage:
- Improves range of motion in your joints by removing tightness in the muscle and increasing tissue elasticity.
- Enhances blood circulation: When your muscles are relaxed, your blood supply increases, so it allows the nutrients to be delivered and unwanted products to be flushed out.
- Relaxes overall body tension and reduces stress: Your body does not work properly when it is stressed. A sports massage increases “feel good” hormones and inhibits the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, which can help prevent injuries and also boost your immune system.
- Aids sleep by reducing anxiety, pain and allowing you to get some time to relax, a massage will help you get a good night's sleep.
- Aids the removal of lactic acid build up by encouraging the supply of blood back to the muscles after excessive exercise. When you produce lactic acid this restricts blood and oxygen in contracting muscles.
- Speeds up the healing time of injuries: sports massages help manage scar tissue and increase flexibility so that you do not lose mobility while you are injured.
These are just a few examples. Sports massages also improve muscle flexibility, aids the reduction of swelling post-injury, aids muscle stimulation and prepares you mentally pre-exercise. Because sports massages are a a treatment there are dos and don’ts that you should follow to ensure you get the most out of the massage:
- Drink plenty of water. It is important to stay hydrated to flush out waste products such as lactic acid that have been released by the massage.
- Eat a light snack - keep your energy up as you can begin to feel lethargic due to a decrease in blood pressure.
- Relax to help your body recover.
- Light stretching to keep supple.
- Smoke or drink alcohol/caffeine. These are stimulants, and increase your heart rate. Having a sports massage lowers your blood pressure so smoking or drinking alcohol/caffeine after you have had treatment can make you feel lightheaded, dizzy or even nauseous.
- Undertake intense exercise. After sports massage your body needs to relax to help recovery. The best thing you can do is rest!