Athletes in elite sports are no stranger to sports massage– and they continue to grow in popularity in nonprofessional sports. Sports massages are known to improve recovery and as a result, they can help prevent injuries and improve overall performance. Sports massages can be looked at as an incredible tool to enhance mobility and flexibility, minimize muscle tension, increase blood flow — therefore lessening one’s muscle soreness. But what separates a sports massage from a regular massage? Let’s discuss. 

Sports Massage vs Traditional Massage

While some techniques are comparable, there are significant differences between traditional massages and a sports massage. Traditional massages typically have a fixed set of routine strokes focused on relaxing groups of muscles like hamstrings, quadriceps, etc. Sports massages are aimed at addressing and treating an athlete’s specific problems. Sports massage spotlights areas that are not functioning as they should to encourage tissues to heal after being worn out from being overworked. The area of focus for a sports massage will depend on the sport the athlete plays. The technique a physical therapist or sports massage therapist will use to treat the problem area(s) is dependent on what objective must be achieved. For example, the massage therapist may focus on the upper and lower back, as well as the quadriceps of a weightlifter, but when working with a marathon runner, their concentration might be on the lower body and the tightness around the hips and calf muscles.

Categorizing Sports Massages

Sport massages are typically categorized depending upon the purpose of treatment. This can be done as follows: 

  • Rehabilitative Sports Massage – Aimed at alleviating pain resulting from a specific injury
  • Restorative Sports Massage – Done during training to allow athletes to train hard with less risk of an injury
  • Pre-Event Sports Massage – A short, stimulating massage focused on the parts of the body that will be used during the sport
  • Post-Event Sports Massage – Helps to promote proper recovery for the body after going through immense physical stress during the sport

Purpose Of Sports Massage

When a body goes through increased physical exertion, whether it be in a sport or due to changes made in training, muscles often suffer micro-trauma. This can indirectly impact the muscular kinetic chain entirely which increases the chance of injury. Sports massage is used to remove the metabolites and the lactic acid therefore enabling the muscle to get adequate oxygen and nutrients needed for healing and recovery. Aside from the physiological and biomechanical benefits, a sports massage may also improve the mental health of an athlete helping to improve their performance when it’s showtime. Chemical hormones such as serotonin, dopamine, and oxycontin are released during the massage which can help athletes manage their emotional stress. Some athletes have experienced discomfort during and after a sports massage, however a good massage therapist is able to minimize unpleasant experiences with feedback and a good assessment of tissues. Our therapists work on different layers of tissues starting superficially and working their way deeper into the lower layers of musculature– this is why they are often called deep tissue therapists and massages.

But if you really want to understand the benefits of a sports massage, you’ll have to experience it.

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About TPS Massage

TPS MaSSAGE Focuses on professional athletes and weekend warriors. We have years of training and experience working with pro athletes and weekend warriors. We use a variety of methods and techniques such as MAT™, Deep Tissue Massage, Cupping, Kinesio Taping, and more, to attend to all your body needs for a full recovery and outstanding experience.
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