Can Athletes Get An Edge With Therapeutic Massage?
All athletes look for an edge that can help them train more effectively,
perform better or overcome injuries quickly. The limits of speed,
endurance and strength are pushed every day and each year brings new
world records. Even though athletes push harder and harder, there are
still limits to the body's ability to go and go without breaking down.
All this pushing requires a great deal of recovery in order for athletes
to avoid injury and overuse trauma.
The growing awareness and use of sports massage therapy, a valuable
addition to other training techniques, has become a key component of the
high performance mix, as much a part of an athlete's critical
discipline as a carefully monitored diet.
What is Therapeutic Massage?
Therapeutic massage is being prescribed by physicians to complement
traditional medical treatment for illness, injury and pain as a growing
body of research documents its efficacy. Massage doesn't just feel good.
It reduces the heart rate and blood pressure, increases blood
circulation and lymph flow, reduces muscle tension/spasm, improves range
of motion, and helps relieve pain, enhancing medical treatment.
Sports Massage Techniques
Each sport and athletic event uses muscle groups in a different way.
Sports massage therapy is often based on Swedish massage and frequently
includes the use of one or more of the following techniques:
- Deep Swedish Massage - Muscle-specific applications of the
standard effleurage, petrissage, vibration, and tapotement techniques.
- Compression Massage - Rhythmic compression into muscles used to
create a deep hypremia and softening effect in the tissues. It is
generally used as a warm-up for deeper, more specific massage work.
- Cross-Fiber Massage - Friction techniques applied in a general
manner to create a stretching and broadening effect in large muscle
groups; or on site-specific muscle and connective tissue, deep
transverse friction applied to reduce adhesions and to help create
strong, flexible repair during the healing process.
- Trigger Point/Tender Point Massage - Combined positioning and
specific finger or thumb pressure into trigger/tender points in muscle
and connective tissue, to reduce the hypersensitivity, muscle spasms and
referred pain patterns that characterize the point. Left untreated,
such trigger/tender points often lead to restricted and painful movement
of entire body regions.
- Lymphatic Massage - Stimulation of specialized
lymphatic-drainage pathways, which improves the body's removal of edemas
Currently it is thought that sports massage can aid sports performance in the following ways:
- Reduce the chance of injury, through proper stretching and event preparation, and through deep tissue massage
- Improve range of motion and muscle flexibility, resulting in
improved power and performance; shorten recovery time between workouts
- Maximize the supply of nutrients and oxygen through increased blood flow
- Enhance elimination of metabolic by-products of exercise.