What is sports massage?

Sometimes when you go to get a massage you will be offered a whole host of different styles that you can choose from. Depending on whether you are in a more clinical setting like your local chiropractor in Beacon Hill, or in a day spa, you could come across any of these types: Swedish, aromatic, deep tissue, shiatsu, remedial, reflexology and sports massage.

It can be a bit confusing working out which type you want or need, but a quick chat with the person you are booking with should be able to sort that out for you. If you are a sporty type and your main aim of the massage is to treat an existing injury, prevent future injuries or enhance optimal performance as opposed to a relaxing massage, then a sports massage at your local chiropractor is probably the right thing for you.

The history of sports massage

Sports massage has been around for centuries. The Greeks have been using a form of sports massage for as long as they have existed, but it was noticed by other countries when they began to use it on their Olympic athletes.

However, the style of massage first gained main stream popularity in the 1924 Paris Olympic Games. Finnish athlete Paavo Nurmi, also known as the “flying Finn”, won an astounding five gold medals in running events; two of which only had a 30-minute break between races! He said the wins were largely thanks to his special training program, which consisted of a sports massage treatment. He had bought along his personal massage therapist to the Games with him.

The name ‘sports massage’ was coined by American Jack Meagher, a former professional sportsman who penned a still widely popular book on the topic, Sports Massage.

When Meagher was serving in the military, a German POW noticed he was having trouble with his shoulder when they were playing a game of softball in the camp. The POW used the special massage techniques on Meagher’s shoulder which restored motion.

Jack Meagher was amazed at the results, and decided to learn the technique from a German instructor after he finished his time in the military service. He then took his learnings back to America with him. By the 1970’s, sports massage was popular enough to become a specialised field.

Who should use sports massage?

The most important thing you should do when you are going for a massage is to speak to your therapist before hand. That way, you can both decide together which type of massage will be most beneficial to you. If you are looking for a relaxation massage to relieve stress and tension then you should look into other types of massage such as aromatherapy, that are usually offered at day spas.

While sports massage can be used to treat an injury, it is also best used as part of an overall program to help your performance as well as preventing further injury.

If you are an athlete, a marathon runner, a body builder or just someone who enjoys going to the gym a lot, then sports massage is something that you will find a lot of benefit from. It should be used when you are in the lead up to a big event and also post event. It can be used in combination with remedial massage to really get the best performance from your body.

How does it work?

Sports massage will use a variety of different styles within the treatment, such as remedial massage, trigger point therapy and deep tissue work.

Sports massage will get deep into the muscles and tissues to get things flowing and pumping again. By opening up the vessels and the pores, fluids and nutrients can pass through and muscles can take in more oxygen as well. On top of this, waste products such as lactic acid are removed faster. This is especially helpful after a big sporting event, as it helps the athlete recover faster.

Sports massage will also help stretch tissues that cannot be stretched in the normal way, which will in turn release any tension or pressure build up. It will also help the tissue become more elastic, as left alone after training they can become hard and inflexible. If you have scar tissue, it can also help to break that down too.

After a big event or gruelling training regime, you may find that you are in quite a bit of pain as your body cannot get rid of waste products or tension. Having a sports massage will help relieve this pain, as well as release endorphins and help your muscles (and you!) to relax.

Aside from the physical benefits of sports massage, there are psychological benefits as well. A good massage can help reduce anxiety levels and will leave you feeling invigorated.

A person giving a sports massage should have a deep understanding of anatomy, physiology and even the demands placed on the body by the different types of sports. Chat to us today to see if sports massage is something that can benefit you.

October 30, 2016
Georgina Smith