SPORTS MASSAGE

WHY SPORTS MASSAGE

No athlete wants to get injured! The slightest injury results in impaired performance, delays in training schedules and results in missing a match or competition. When muscles are stretched to their limits during high-intensity training, injury is more likely. Especially with repeated injuries, there is a risk that it can turn into a chronic, permanent condition.

Massage therapy has come a long way, from wellness treatments to specialized therapies and specific sports massages. Recent studies have shown that massage therapy is making significant progress in preventing injuries.

WHAT IS SPORTS MASSAGE

Despite its name, this type of massage is not just for athletes, any individual can benefit from it!

Sports massage aims to prevent injuries, treat injuries and relieve pain. In the long term, it can help achieve peak performance, as sports massage allows the body to function optimally.

After all, sports massage has physical, mental and emotional benefits.

WHAT IT GIVES

Sports massage not only supports muscle recovery and reduces the risk of injury, but also improves blood circulation and relieves stress. It's a great way to reduce mental tension and completely relax after (hard) exercise. A good massage can restore the mobility of damaged muscle tissue and reduce fatigue.

Exercising creates “micro-tears” in the muscle cells, which can cause inflammation. (Sports) massages improve the local blood supply to these areas, which has a positive effect on the recovery process. Researchers report that after an intense workout, massage stimulates the growth of mitochondria (the “powerhouses” of our cells that convert nutrients into usable energy), resulting in stronger muscles.

“Energy is EVERYTHING for an athlete and oxygen is EVERYTHING for the body.”

The same researchers report that deep massage after exercise increases the number of mitochondria more than when no massage was performed. Increasing the number of mitochondria improves endurance by increasing the “transport rate” at which the muscles use oxygen. In addition, the same study showed that muscle mobility increases and recovery time between activities decreases.

ADVANTAGES

Ask a sports masseur what he/she thinks of a sports massage and he/she will say it's fantastic! Ask a scientist the same question and they'll say the scientific benefits are still being researched.

What is clear is that massage is one of the best techniques for restoring tired muscles and recovering Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS); especially compared to cryotherapy, the use of compression garments and electrostimulation.

SPORTS MASSAGE TECHNIQUES

It is a misconception that sports massage is synonymous with deep tissue massage. There are several types of sports massage that include different techniques, such as:

EFFLEURAGE

An intermittent technique where the palm works deeply on the muscles to force blood out of a specific area.

PETRISSAGE

Kneading movements that put more pressure on muscles and tissues and normalize muscle tension.

FRICTION

The friction technique is used to get rid of small muscle stiffness with constant pressure and make the muscles flexible.

A massage doesn't have to be painful to be good! There is a fine line between pain and discomfort and it can vary from individual to individual. A little discomfort after the massage is acceptable. It can even detect certain muscle weaknesses that require strengthening action, but the discomfort should disappear after 48 hours. With a good massage, the body can even feel completely "new".

EVEN MORE BENEFITS

During a massage, the muscles receive the most attention, many people report a feeling of pure relaxation, increased focus and improved mood after receiving a massage. It can be said that athletes get both physical and psychological benefits from a good sports massage.

Several studies conducted by the US National Center for Biotechnology Information show that massage therapy:

  • Reduces heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Shortens recovery time after injuries.
  • Supports healing from injuries.
  • Removes fear.
  • Improves mood.
  • Relieves muscle pain and tension.
  • Accelerates the healing of connective tissue, which promotes muscle flexibility.
  • Stabilizes cortisol levels (cortisol is a stress hormone, comparable to adrenaline).
  • Increases blood flow throughout the body, transporting nutrients and oxygen.

SOURCES

(1) Lim, EC and MGTay, Kinesiology taping in musculoskeletal pain and disability lasting more than 4 weeks: is it time to rip off the tape and throw it away with the sweat? A systematic review with meta-analysis focusing on pain and also taping methods. Br J Sports Med, 2015. 49(24): p. 1558-66.