Sports massage can be used:
- For “maintenance”, to relieve the muscles from the stress of an intense training, or of a demanding job. Occupational, emotional and postural stress can result in similar characteristics to sports injuries.
- To prevent and manage injury: by working on tight or weak muscles at early stages, some injuries can be avoided. In the case of an injury, or dysfunction such as muscle cramp, tear, adhesions, bruises etc. sports massage helps the healing process by breaking down scar tissue.
- In a sport event: pre event massage is used as a complimentary warm-up and enhance circulation prior to the event, whereas post event massage helps the recovery by reducing muscle spasms.
Sports massage is applied to the connective and soft tissues of the body via different techniques and stretch methods such as effleurage, petrissage, vibrations/shaking, tapotement, frictions or stretching, just to name a few.
The therapist also uses soft tissues techniques, like neuromuscular and soft tissue mobilisation techniques. These focus on relieving muscular pain and tension, and on immobility, by breaking down fibrous adhesions in the muscles, tendons and ligaments.
The effects of sports massage can be divided in 3 categories:
The flow of fluids (blood and lymph) is improved due to the mechanical pumping and squeezing actions.
The pores in tissue membranes open and allow fluids and nutrients to pass through, removing waste products such as lactic acid
Improved soft tissues mobility by stretching them in a longitudinal or transverse direction.
Breaking down of scar tissue by separating the muscle fibres that have become stuck to one another (adhesions)
Endorphins are released while the production of sympathetic (or stress) hormones is reduced. This helps to reduce the muscular pain and tension.
The muscles relax as neural stimulation (contraction) is reduced.
They depend on the initial state of mind, perception and mood of the client.
The release of endorphins helps to reduce anxiety levels.