Sports Medicine
Sports Injury Prevention & Rehabilitation

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Can Athletes Get An Edge With Therapeutic Massage?

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 and effusion.
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.