When you push yourself to your physical limits, you might be putting your body at risk.
Your muscles cramp up, probably get strained, and it’ll take weeks to fully recover.
In this case, you need a sports massage. It’s a common recovery method, vouched for by athletes like Usain Bolt. But what is sports massage? And how exactly can it benefit non-athletes like you and me?
What is Sports Massage and Where Did It Come From?
Sports massage is a type of massage therapy that targets areas of the body that are strained from repetitive and strenuous movements.
One session can last between 60-90 minutes, and is ideal for people undergoing athletic training. However, the concept of recovering through massage isn’t entirely new.
Massage therapy was practiced in ancient Greece, Egypt, and more. Even back then, gladiators saw the importance of recovering from sore muscles. For instance, Galen, a physician from the Roman Empire, “prescribed massage for gladiators both before and after training.”
It continued to develop in the 1900s when the first techniques and theories about sports massage emerged. Massage methods like effleurage, kneading, and trigger pointing were included in their real-life application.
During the 1924 Olympics, 5-time gold medalist Paavo Nurmi went on record to credit sports massage as the key to his success. Many years afterward, it became an official part of athletes’ Olympic training.
Today, this type of massage is known to benefit not just athletes, but anyone looking for effective, relaxing sore muscle pain relief.
What are The 3 Types of Sports Massage?
Pre-Event Sports Massage
Just as the name suggests, a pre-event sports massage is done at least 4 hours before the athletic event. Some even receive it days beforehand.
This kind of massage can be part of your warm-up routine. It helps you to relax, stimulates your muscles, and gets you into the right mindset before competing.
Post-Event Sports Massage
After competition or training, your body’s in dire need of recovery. This is where a post-event sports massage is done, at least 1 or 2 hours after the athletic event. It relaxes your muscles and prevents them from cramping up. It also significantly reduces DOMS post-workout.
Rehabilitative Sports Massage
If you want to speed up the healing process and maintain your strength, get into rehabilitative sports massage. This type of massage therapy treats muscle pain and helps you recover from injuries quickly. It also reduces the risk of a repeat injury.
Who Can Get and Benefit From a Sports Massage?
If you think this kind of massage is only exclusive to professional athletes, here’s a list of who can really benefit from it.
Getting a sports massage is perfect if you:
Play tennis, soccer, or any other type of impact sport
Do hard, physical labor every day
Deal with chronic muscle pain such as fibromyalgia
What are the Proven Health Benefits of Sports Massage?
It reduces DOMS and muscle aches
When your daily work involves repetitive movements, your muscles will eventually feel strained. Fortunately, sports massage reduces DOMS or delayed onset muscle soreness by at least 30%. It also lessens the swelling and pain in tense muscles.
It helps in treating sciatica and other chronic pains
Aside from muscle soreness, chronic pain is also a common problem people have to deal with. More than 20% of the US adult population suffers from chronic pain every day.
With each kneading stroke, sports massage stretches your tired muscles until they relax and become ready for recovery. It reduces tension and lowers down the chance of post-workout injury.
It can increase range in motion and flexibility
Many studies have proven that regular massage can increase your range of motion and flexibility. For this reason, many athletes find it useful before a competition. Patients recovering from injuries also benefit from it, as it helps return their mobility.
It guarantees a good night’s sleep
According to the American Massage Therapy Association, sports massage is guaranteed to help you sleep better at night. Aside from the physical effects, massage lowers the stress hormone, or cortisol, in your brain. It helps you slow down and feel less anxious.
Here are some honest takes about more of its benefits, from Reddit:
Are There Likely Side Effects When Getting a Sports Massage?
While it does provide a lot of health benefits, it might not be for everyone. Here are some of the possible side effects to consider before you get your first appointment.
Lingering post-massage pain
Redness or bruising on the skin
How to Do Sports Massage at Home?
Just because you’re stuck at home, that doesn’t mean you can’t have the spa experience anymore. There are a few simple ways on how to give yourself a sports massage at home.
Get a Massage Gun
Booking an appointment with a massage therapist can be a time-consuming hassle. Most of the time, you need a quick fix for your body aches. In short, you need a massage gun. It kneads the pain away in less than 10 minutes.
Research Self-Massage Techniques
If you don’t have anyone else to massage you, try doing it yourself. Many massage techniques are easy enough to be replicated at home, as long as you’re careful about it. In the video below, a massage therapist explains in detail the self-massage techniques you can do right now.
If you’re still unsure or you have a chronic condition, consult your local massage therapist or physician on how to do a self-massage.
Sports massage isn’t only beneficial for dedicated sportsmen. It’s for anyone who deals with physically demanding work every day. Whether you’re hunching over your work desk, or repeatedly lifting boxes, this can be the pain-relief solution you’re looking for.