Benefits of Sports Massage

What is sports massage?

Sports Massage covers a wide range of techniques. Some are similar to Swedish massage to induce complete body relaxation. Others are designed to treat musculoskeletal dysfunctions, alleviate pain, break down scar tissues, increase blood flow and range of motion. Evidence has shown that sports massage improves flexibility and muscle soreness after exercise (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness).

Who can benefit from sports massage?

Anyone can benefit from Sports Massage. You don’t need to be an athlete to feel that your body aches and needs to be pampered. No matter how many hours you train per week, it is always important to address aches, stiffness and restrictions before they develop, and get worse. 

Here are 5 of the main benefits of Sports Massage:

 - Pain reduction - In tight muscles and fascias which can be achieved by using a deep pressure technique, which increases blood and lymphatic flow.

 - Reduction of scar tissue - In a nutshell, when you get injured, you may damage muscles, tendons or ligaments. Your body starts its healing process by generating new layers of fibres to cover the wound and replace the damaged ones. These layers, however, do not always build evenly - known as scar tissue. If scar tissues are not treated, they may lead to tissue shrinkage and therefore affect your range of motion.

 - Relaxation - Massage increases the activity within the parasympathetic nervous system, which releases hormones and chemicals to make you relax.

 - Improve venous return - Greater blood flow around the body.

 - Improve lymphatic drainage - By moving toxins and by-products towards the lymphatic system, helping to improve many conditions such as fatigue, stress and even migraines.

Some of the techniques I use in my sports massage treatments;

- Effleurage is a light pressure technique that enhances blood flow by dilating the capillaries.

- Petrissage loosens muscle fibres and promotes venous return by increasing blood flow in the capillaries.

- Cross-fibre technique enhances the healing process by generating an analgesic effect on the ligaments and tendons.

- Compression allows capillary beds to empty then refill during decompression. This technique helps to drain toxins and wastes towards the lymph.

- Friction plays an active role at different stages of the healing process by remodelling and breaking down the scar tissues (adhesions) on tendons, ligaments and muscles. 

 - Muscle Energy Technique (MET) is widely used among Osteopaths. MET is used to treat joint restrictions and increase range of motion and mobility. This technique is particularly helpful in chronic conditions. 

- Myofascial/trigger point technique relaxes muscles. In Asia, this technique follows the lines of the meridians. 


References:

Davis, H.L., Alabed, S., Ainsley Chico, T.J. (2019). Effect of sports massage on performance and recovery: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Open Sport & Exercise Medicine 6(1):e000614 DOI:10.1136/bmjsem-2019-000614

Fernádez-de-las-Peñas, C., Cleland J.A., Dommerholt, J. (2016). Manual therapy for musculoskeletal pain syndromes. An evidence and clinical informed approach. Elsvier. 

Hartman, L. (1997). Handbook of osteopathic techniques. 3rd Edition. Cengage Learning. 

Lee, S.J., Yoo, J.J., Atala, A. (2016). In Situ Tissue Regeneration: Host Cell Recruitment and Biomaterial Design. Elsiver.

Rattray, F., Ludwig, L. (2005). Clinical massage therapy. Understanding, assessing and treating over 70 conditions. Talus incorporated.