8 Benefits of Sports Massage
People have massage for different reasons but in this post I'm going to list (in no particular order) and elaborate on what I think are the 8 most beneficial reasons for getting a sports massage.
1. Injury prevention. One of my favourite quotes comes from one of the founding fathers of the United States, Benjamin Franklin, who said "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure".
It's always far better to prevent injuries or pain from occuring in the first place. While the benefits of this are not as tangible as curing something, the truth of this statement is undeniable. Regular sports massage helps keep the body closer to it's natural state, preventing muscle imbalances which are a common cause of injuries and dysfunction.
2. Releasing tight muscles. We all get tight muscles from time to time. Too much sitting or a sedentary lifestyle, stress, poor posture, and even overtraining can lead to a feeling of tightness in certain areas. Particularly common areas of tightness are the lower back, upper back, and neck. Sports massage can help to free these areas up and restore proper function. It should be noted that it's always a good idea to try and determine the cause of the tight muscles in an effort to prevent a continuing cycle of tightness/release. That's what I do here!
3. Improving circulation. All forms of massage will help with this to a greater or lesser degree. Working through muscles and fascia will improve blood and lymph flow around the body. It is through the circulatory system that nutrients and waste products are carried by the body, and improvements in circulation via massage will increase the efficiency of nutrient delivery and waste elimination, and help to prevent circulatory dysfunction (such as oedema).
4. Reduce stress. In all honesty other forms of massage will be better at reducing stress than sports, but it can still have a significant impact on stress reduction. Stress very often manifests itself in the form of tight musculature which we've seen already can be released by sports massage. This coupled with a restoration of proper function and movement plus possible pain relief, all helps to reduce stress.
5. Relase fascia. Fascia is a type of connective tissue that exists all around the body on both a superficial and a deep level. One cannot affect the muscles of the body without affecting the fascia to some degree. Muscles are wrapped in this tissue (sometimes called fascial bags) and these can cause a sticking together which in turn results in a loss of flexibility and possible dysfunction and imbalance. Massage techniques, especially sports and deep tissue massage, helps to release fascia.
6. Improves mobility/flexibility. Tight muscles, stuck fascia, muscle imbalances are all going to lead to restrictions in movement. The correction of these issues will automatically lead to easier, fuller range, and more efficient movement for the client.
7. Improved posture. When muscles tighten or weaken and create imbalance, the body will be pulled out of it's optimum position. Left for too long this will inevitably lead to pain and an even worsening postural position. With proper assessment postural abnormalities can be recognised at the start of the session and sports massage techniques used to correct them.
8. Improved performance. Bottom line? If you have closer to optimum posture, no muscle imbalances, and better flexibility and mobility, you are simply going to perform better in both a physical AND a mental capacity. Try doing proper deadlift technique in a gym when you cannot keep your back straight (actually don't) due to imbalance. When your body is better you are better.
Remember sports massage isn't just for sports people. Anyone can benefit :)