Australia is a sporting culture with a love of the outdoors and pride in our nation’s athletes. From surfing to rugby to cricket, approximately 88% of Australian adults participate in some type of sporting activity. However, injuries are also common among participants, with 58,500 hospitalised with severe sports-related injuries in 2017.
Sports massage is a remedial massage style that combines techniques including Swedish massage, deep tissue manipulation, and myofascial release. It involves systematically manipulating soft and connective tissues that are functionally relevant to a particular sport or activity.
Sports massage is highly beneficial for athletes for pre-match warm-ups and post-workout recovery. It is also an essential part of an athlete’s training program to minimise the risk of injury and increase performance.
Discover some sports massage benefits and why you should consider incorporating sports massage into your training program.
Sports Massage Benefits: Improved Range of Motion
High flexibility and range of motion (ROM) are critical to preventing sports injuries. Some of the most common sports injuries involve joint, tendon, and ligament damage, which can take several weeks to recover from and may permanently impact your athletic performance.
A 2017 meta-analysis and systematic review revealed that participants experiencing shoulder pain with reduced ROM saw significant improvements after mechanical pressure was applied to the joints and soft tissue during a sports massage.
Sports Massage Benefits: Increased Blood Flow
Oxygen is vital for optimal sports performance. When resting, the average person requires around 250 ml min-1 of oxygen. However, athletes can consume up to 5,000 ml min-1 of oxygen when training at high intensities.
When muscles are hypercontracted and tense, blood flow and oxygen saturation in the muscle cells decrease, reducing your ability to perform intense activities.
A sports massage therapist uses stroking movements, such as effleurage, petrissage, and tapotement, in addition to stretching and kneading techniques, to manually release muscle fibres and increase vasodilation.
This encourages better blood circulation to the muscles and increased oxygen uptake.
Sports Massage Benefits: Decreased Muscle Tension
To achieve peak performance, athletes need to use the full length of their muscle fibres to generate energy for power and motion. Tense muscles before or during a workout can prevent you from reaching your exercise goals and may result in severe injury, including muscle tears or lesions due to hyperextension or overuse.
Muscle tension can also result in post-workout injuries due to delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). DOMS can occur 12 to 24 hours after exercise and can cause intense discomfort that may prevent you from participating in future workout sessions or competitions for up to 3 days. DOMS is caused by microscopic muscle tears and inflammation from overexertion or tense, unconditioned muscles.
Getting a sports massage after an intense workout or a competitive match can help reduce muscle inflammation and increase circulation to flood sore muscles with nutrients, allowing them to heal naturally. This offers a faster post-workout recovery.
Sports Massage Benefits: Reduced Anxiety
Stress and anxiety can significantly adversely impact sports performance and affect amateur athletes more than professionals. Anxiety and stress can cause physical symptoms, such as increased heart rate, nausea, sweating, and fatigue, reducing your ability to perform athletically.
Anxiety can also create psychological blocks and negative thought patterns that can reduce the self-confidence needed to succeed in competitions.
A sports massage therapist can use relaxation in addition to remedial techniques to help calm your central nervous system and alleviate stress and anxiety. They can also teach you the location of pressure points, such as the cusp between your thumb and forefinger, that you can use before or during an activity to lower your body’s stress response.
Additionally, sports massage can trigger the release of neurochemicals such as dopamine and serotonin, which can help create a euphoric feeling and reduce the effects of anxiety.
Sports Massage Benefits: Better Sleep
Getting adequate sleep is vital for athletic recovery. While you sleep, your body triggers the release of human growth hormone and increases protein synthesis. These functions repair microtears in your muscles and increase muscle mass.
Sleep also allows your body to eliminate metabolic waste products from cells, such as lactate, which can cause muscle stiffness and soreness.
Sleeping for 7 to 9 hours per night is also important for performance. Research suggests that even minimal sleep disturbances can dramatically affect reaction speeds, accuracy, and endurance.
Sports massage can help your body relax after an intense training session to provide you with better quality sleep. A study in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies demonstrated that participants who underwent a 5-week massage treatment reported fewer sleep disturbances and better quality rest.
The participants also reported less pain, anxiety, and depression symptoms, which may have contributed to improved rest quality.
What You Can Expect From a Sports Massage at Wayne Massage
When you schedule a treatment at Wayne Massage, your sports massage therapist will use scientifically-backed massage and stretching techniques to reduce muscle tension and alleviate soreness.
We offer three types of sports massage treatments: maintenance massage, pre-event sports massage, and post-event sports massage.
A maintenance sports massage is usually incorporated into your training program several times per month. Your sports massage therapist uses deep stretching and kneading movements to keep myofascial tissue loose and flexible and prevent scar tissue buildup from repetitive movements.
Pre-event sports massages are used as part of an active warm-up to keep your body limber and increase your range of motion. This can help prevent injury and reduce pre-event stress to improve your focus.
Post-event sports massage focuses on recovery. Your sports massage therapist can help minimise muscle cramping and soreness and promote faster recovery by facilitating increased blood flow and healing.
Boost Your Training Program With Sports Massage at Wayne Massage
Support your body and improve your performance with regular sports massages at Wayne Massage. We have three convenient locations in the Sydney CBD and a mobile massage service so that you can benefit from sports massage therapy at your event or training location. Contact us today to book your sports massage, Chinese cupping therapy, or acupuncture treatment.
Sports Participation in Australia
Effectiveness of massage therapy on the range of motion of the shoulder: a systematic review and meta-analysis
Physiological effects of exercise
What Is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) and What Can You Do About It?
The effect of anxiety on anticipation, allocation of attentional resources, and visual search behaviours
6 Pressure Points for Anxiety Relief
Cortisol decreases and serotonin increases following massage therapy
Sleep and Athletic Performance
Lower back pain and sleep disturbance are reduced following massage therapy