Sports massage was originally developed to help athletes prepare their bodies for optimal performance, recover after a big event, or function well during training. Sports massage emphasises the prevention and healing of injuries to the muscles and tendons and is ideal for people with chronic pain or restricted range of motion. It is a type of Swedish massage that stimulates the circulation of blood and lymph fluids. Some sports massage movements use trigger point therapy to break down adhesions (knots within the muscles) and increase the range of motion.
There are four types of sports massage:
- Pre-event – 15-45 minutes before an event, a short, stimulating massage, directed toward the parts of the body that will be involved in the exertion
- Post-event – given within an hour or two of the event to normalise the body’s tissues
- Restorative – given during training to allow the athlete to train harder and with less injury
- Rehabilitative – aimed at alleviating pain due to injury and returning the body to health
When should I have a sports massage?
A sports massage is a good choice if you have a specific problem, a tender knee from running for instance. The therapist generally focuses on the problem area, a tight hamstring for instance, rather than giving you a full-body massage. If you have any expectations or questions about your treatment, please discuss this with your therapist.
If you are concerned about what might be causing your injury in the first place, it would also be beneficial to see a physiotherapist, who can help assess, identify and advise on the correct treatment for the injury and prescribe an exercise programme to prevent further injury.