Especially for athletes who undergo high-impact, extremely strenuous training, soreness and injuries related to overuse of the muscles and tendons can be difficult to avoid. Athletes typically put excess strain on one particular area of their bodies, depending on the athlete’s specific sport. For instance, a runner might suffer constant knee or hip pain, while a weight-lifter might experience soreness in the neck and shoulders. No athlete wants to get behind on their training due to such injuries. However, when the body is put under so much strain, it is nearly impossible to avoid an injury of some sort. Remedies such as sports massage can help relieve the athlete’s aching body and allow them to return to their sport as soon as possible.
Although sports massage is primarily reserved for athletes, this practice has other uses as well. Many people suffering from any muscle-related pain will see a sports massage therapist to help alleviate the affliction. The purpose of sports massage is to relieve soreness and discomfort caused by overexerted muscles, and it can be useful for regular citizens and athletes alike.
THE TYPES OF SPORTS MASSAGE
Sports massage therapists will generally use one of two massaging techniques in order to provide pain relief to injured or sore muscles: Deep Swedish massage or Shiatsu. With deep Swedish massage, the therapist uses a combination of smooth strokes, kneading pressures, circular motions, and various percussion movements that force the muscles to relax and release fluid waste. In Shiatsu massage (a Japanese-derived procedure), the massage therapist stretches the afflicted muscles and then applies direct pressure to the areas of greatest resistance.
PREVENTATIVE MEASURES USING SPORTS MASSAGE
Sports massage is oftentimes administered to athletes before they undergo a particularly strenuous workout, race, or sports game. By massaging the muscles and tissues which are going to be abused during the sporting event, the massage therapist can help prevent the muscles from freezing up, cramping, or suffering injury. On the day of the event, usually between four and five hours before the athlete must perform, the athlete is given a ten to fifteen minute deep massage that loosens the muscles and enables the athlete to move more fluidly. The athlete is then given another massage within half an hour of the event to ensure that his or her muscles are completely relaxed. Many athletes additionally see a pre-event sports massage as a way to mentally prepare themselves for their competition.
MID-EVENT SPORTS MASSAGE
Sometimes, an athlete might begin to feel acute pain in their muscles during his or her event. In some cases, these athletes are able to receive a brief sports massage during a break or time-out to help relieve the pain. These massages are very quick and usually can last no longer than roughly five minutes. While such hasty sports massages generally cannot provide nearly as much relief as a longer, more extensive massage session, they can serve to tide an athlete over until more in-depth treatment can be administered.
SPORTS MASSAGE AS A HEALING AND THERAPEUTIC PROCESS
The bulk of sports massage sessions are performed to treat a pre-existing injury or ailment. After an athlete has completed a game or workout, he or she might see a sports massage therapist to relieve pains caused by repetitive stress. Persons who are not athletes will also receive a sports massage for muscle soreness derived from other causes.
After suffering acute stress, the body’s muscles will sometimes seize up or retain an excess amount of acids. This can cause mild to extreme pain in the injured area. Sports massage helps to alleviate this pain by gently forcing the muscles to relax, simultaneously pushing excess fluids out of the afflicted tissue. Post-stress sports massage both relieves immediate pain and helps the muscles to repair themselves correctly. These sports massage sessions are typically the longest and the most in-depth, with lengths ranging from thirty minutes to over two hours.