Sports massage therapy refers to the kind of massage which is designed for the prevention and reduction of soft tissue injuries. To do this, sports massage therapists usually apply varying degrees of pressure using their hands or other body parts, such as the elbows, forearms, knees, and even feet to apply pressures. Such pressures include friction techniques, tapotement, and muscle energy techniques such as PNF stretching, which aim at promoting movement and compression in the body. Sports massage is usually conducted to promote wellbeing and relaxation with athletes and active individuals, and many times, people opt for only foot massage.
Muscular and joint injuries such as sprains and strains, postural related pain, headaches, whiplash, golfers and tennis elbow, repetitive strain injuries, back pain can be corrected via sports massage. Sports massage is a massage therapy that is both beneficial to the mind (psychologically) and the body (physically).
The major benefit of sports massage is the prevention and control of soft tissue strain. One of the most common athletic challenges faced by most athletes is DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). DOMS is a symptom eccentric-exercise-induced muscle damage that is characterized by muscle soreness and muscle pain which is developed hours after an exercise. It consists of predominantly eccentric muscle actions —especially if the exercise is not a familiar one. When done by a professional massage therapist, it reduces and prevents the often painful and debilitating effects of DOMS in athletes.
For persons who are physically active or into sporting activities, sports massage is ideal to promote the following:
- Increase in joint range of motion (ROM)
- More flexibility
- Increase in the sense of well-being
- Reduction of muscle tension
- A decrease in neurological excitability (nerves becomes more relaxed)
- Reduction in episodes of muscle spasms
Other extended benefits of sports massage that is not scientifically proven, but testified, include:
- Increase in the flow of blood
- Increase in the elimination of exercise waste products (e.g. lactic acid)
- Reduction in the chances of an injury
- Reduced recovery time in- between workouts
- Reduced discomfort, muscle tension, and muscular pain
- Increase in the range of motion (this leads to an enhanced performance).
- A decrease in muscle stiffness and soreness after exercise sessions
- Reduction in the recovery time post-injury
- Increase in the levels of relaxation and reduction in psychological and physical stress levels
- Aids in quality sleep time.
The benefits of sports massage are, largely, as a result of an increase in local blood circulation which occurs as a result of chemical irritants and waste products stored up within the muscle system that has been flushed. Also, the massage allows fresh blood flow which increases oxygen and nutrient content within the muscle. This helps in muscular (tissue) repair and a reduction in muscle tension.
In summary, Sports Massage Therapy has many benefits not only for athletes but for physically active individuals, that is, people with an active lifestyle or jobs that require muscular stress and pain as a result of lifestyle, injury or work.
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