Sports Massage is a specialized form of traditional Swedish Massage using pressure along with long, rhythmic strokes to relax muscles. Oils and/or lotions are usually used to reduce friction. With this massage, the therapist will usually concentrate on a specific area, specific to your activity, and may employ massage therapy trigger point techniques to help break up adhesions (knots) in muscles, thus improving range and flexibility. Here are some great ways to enhance your performance.
1. Pre-event Massage
When competing in a rigorous event, start your day with a pre-event massage. Use a therapist who knows you and your style of running or competing. The therapist also should be familiar with the sport you are competing in and its various physical challenges. The pre-event massage can be given sometime the day before the event or as soon as 30 minutes before you begin. A massage doesn’t replace your regular warm-up, but rather compliments it by increasing flexibility and warming up the muscles. It also can relieve tension and put you in a better frame of mind. Get a light massage before an event, because deep-tissue massaging irritates the muscles and takes a while to heal.
2. Post-event Massage
A post-event massage should be given within an hour or two after you finish the competition. A good massage will flush the system of toxins and lactic acid that have been shaken loose during the exercising. One of the benefits of post-event massage done shortly following a competition is that it helps you to calm down. Your metabolism is in high gear after an event, making you ripe for a cleaning massage. For the massage to be most effective and to avoid adding stress to an already run down athlete, make sure that you are hydrated.
3. Maintenance Massage
Regular massage when you are not in the midst of a competition will help you to retain flexibility while working out the kinks and knots that training and exercise heap on your muscles. Massage keeps you relaxed. Tight muscles injure easily and massage is a great tool to prevent pulled muscles and twisted joints. Sports massage does not necessarily last as long as a full-body massage, but rather works the area’s most used by the athlete. It focuses attention on well-used areas of the body. Sports massage can also help increase circulation. It pushes the blood through the veins more effectively making healing and repair quicker. Sports massage also helps athletes to maintain a good attitude by easing stress about winning and pushing the body to its limits.
4. Keep the Goal in Sight
The main goal of sports massage is to increase performance and keep the body fit and clean. Use a therapist whom you can trust to provide the best bodywork for your particular needs. Stop the massage if you feel any pain or dizziness. If after a pre or post event massage, you feel any additional cramping, you should see a medic. Sometimes massage will loosen toxins that can become heavier when you exercise. Stick with a massage therapist who does right by you. They can be as valuable to your overall performance as a good coach.
Sports massage has great benefits for serious athletes looking for that “something extra.” Pre and post massage techniques each encourage different benefits. Massage therapists help athletes reduce their chances of injury, increase muscle elasticity, and reduce the time to recovery. Massage therapy will benefit any sports training routine. Check with your trainers and your massage therapist to bring massage into your regular exercise routine.
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