A sports massage can be perfect for anyone with an active lifestyle but are they all the same? The answer is no, as they can generally be broken down into three different types. Here we’ll look at what they are and how they can help you. Read on to find out more!
Why Turn to Sports Massage?
An athlete’s performance is a direct result of their body condition. Athletes with poor body health tend to perform poorly. Likewise, athletes in peak condition will also produce peak performance.
Different practices are done by athletes in order to improve or recover their peak body condition. There is a multitude of solutions that can help improve an athlete’s condition, such as proper diet, training, and receiving massages.
Sports massage has always been the go-to massage for athletes aiming to improve or maintain their body condition.
Sports massages differ depending on the type of sport that the athlete engages in. Different sports massages target different body parts depending on which parts are necessary for certain sports.
What Are The Three Types of Sports Massage?
Sports massages are categorized depending on when they are received by the athletes. Below are the three main types of sports massage.
Pre-Event Sports Massage
The first type of sports massage is one that helps prepare an athlete for sporting events, such as competitions or training. As the name suggests, pre-event sports massages are received by athletes prior to their sporting events.
These massages help stimulate blood flow, reduce muscle tension, and prepare the body for strenuous activities. This allows athletes to perform at a higher level while preventing injuries from ever occurring.
Pre-event sports massages are usually done about four hours before events and can take up to 15 minutes. This type of massage is light in order to prevent straining the body prior to events. Effleurage, tapotement, friction, and vibration are used throughout the massage, but not petrissage.
The techniques help stretch the muscles, allowing for better flexibility and a wider range of motion. Not only does this allow for better performance, but improved flexibility also prevents muscle strain which may be sustained during events.
The massage is also able to improve athlete endurance, as it allows athletes to move for longer periods without the risks of fatigue and injuries. Other techniques, such as tapotement, also help stimulate the nerves, helping further enhance performance.
Pre-event sports massage may also be done between events in order to maintain an athlete’s body condition. This helps keep the athlete’s muscles warmed up during the downtime, while also helping reduce the pain from minor injuries sustained during events.
Post-Event Sports Massage
The second type of sports massage helps athletes recover from injuries sustained during events, while also reducing the likelihood of injuries developing after events. Post-event sports massages are done after sports events, but never directly after the events.
This type of massage is done after athletes are allowed to rehydrate, recover, stretch, and cool down from sports events. Ideally, these massages should be performed within 72 hours in order to have maximum effect.
Post-event sports massages start with strokes, helping strained muscles relax. A buildup of lactic acid is usually observed after sporting events. As such, tapotement, friction, petrissage, and vibration are then done in order to help remove the lactic acid.
The massage also helps identify pain trigger points, which are necessary in order to locate which areas may be at risk of injuries or delayed onset muscle soreness. On average, the massage can take around 15 minutes, but the duration and intensity also depend on the severity of an athlete’s condition.
In addition to massages, other physiotherapy techniques, such as ice baths and compressions, are done in order to help the athletes recover. With proper execution, athletes are able to recover faster, allowing them to be able to participate in events with less time needed for recovery.
Furthermore, by identifying which areas are at risk of injuries, action may be taken in order to prevent those areas from being strained in future events.
Maintenance Sports Massage
During the off-season, one of the main problems faced by athletes is maintaining their form. The third type of sports massage, the maintenance sports massage, is geared towards maintaining an athlete’s form during downtime in order to keep the athlete performing in top form.
Maintenance sports massage not only maintains the form of an athlete but also reduces the risk of injury during downtime.
Maintenance sports massage, similar to post-event sports massage, helps lower lactic acid levels in order to prevent pain and soreness. This prevents soreness from training and also helps athletes recover faster from long-term injuries. Similar to post-event sports massage, maintenance sports massage can also help locate pain trigger points, helping prevent future injuries.
Maintenance sports massages are done regularly, with weekly or bi-monthly sessions being the most common frequency observed by athletes. By having regular massages, recovery time between intense training sessions is improved, and muscle tightness is reduced.
Since training becomes more efficient as a result of these massages, an athlete’s growth and performance heavily improve throughout a period of time.
For more intense injuries, most notably those which require surgery, rehabilitation may be required. As such, regular rehabilitative sports massage is done in order to reduce pain, while also speeding up the recovery process.
A rehabilitative sports massage is a more specialized form of maintenance sports massage that aims to help athletes get back on their feet after sustaining serious injuries.
Which Type Should You Go For?
Each type of sports massage caters to different purposes. Pre-event sports massage prepares an athlete for sporting events. Post-event sports massage helps an athlete recover after events. Maintenance sports massage helps maintain an athlete’s form throughout the course of several days.
The type of sports massage which a person receives should also dependent on their purpose of getting a sports massage. In order to properly plan out which sports massages an athlete should receive, it is best to consult advice from a physiotherapist beforehand.