What is Sport Massage?
Sports massage is a massage involving the manipulation of soft tissue. Soft tissue is connective tissue that has not hardened into bone or cartilage; it includes skin, muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia (a connective tissue that lines and covers the other soft tissues). Sports massage is designed to assist in correcting problems and imbalances in soft tissue that are caused by repetitive and strenuous physical activity and trauma. Getting a sports massage, prior to and after exercise, may enhance performance, aid recovery and prevent injury.
Massage is known as one of the earliest forms of physical therapy and was used over 3000 years ago in China, India and Greece. Its popular use in the West is due to the work of Per Henrik Ling (1776 - 1839), who developed the massage now known as Swedish massage. Ling developed his massage and exercise style to help fencers and gymnasts, and gaining international recognition in the process. Many of his ideas have formed the foundations of modern sports massage. Today, there are many forms of massage available to assist in maintaining our health and wellbeing. Sports massage has been accepted in America, Canada and Australia for many years now, while in the UK, the practice only became known and more widely used in the 1990s.
Things to Know before Getting a Sport Massage
Sport massage has many benefits, like improved flexibility, reduced risk of injury, and improved circulatory system. But things related to body isn’t a one-size-fits all, and there are certain things to consider before getting a sport massage.
1. Understand the Different Types of Massage
There are many different styles of massage, and it’s important to understand the differences so you know exactly what kind of massage you will get.
For example for a runner, the recommended massage is either a sports massage or a myofascial release massage (a gentle, sustained pressure on soft tissue restrictions). Both specifically target muscle release and will help improve flexibility, reduce pain and increase range of motion.
2. Find Out Your Therapist Education Background
Before getting a massage, ask questions about the therapist’s education and experience. Seek referrals if possible. Therapist that is specifically trained in orthopedic treatment and assessment is better, as he will know when to refer you to another healthcare professional, in the case that you’re experiencing chronic pain and discomfort not healed with massage.
3. Make Sure You are Well Hydrated
Dehydration can stiffen the fascia and muscles, so you could be more in pain during the massage.
4. Do not Eat too Much before Getting a Massage
It is better to eat after the massage session, or at least three hours before the massage. Your full belly will make you feel uncomfortable when you are lying face down, and massage naturally slows down your body systems including the digestive process.
5. Don’t Expect Your Massage would be Like a Spa Session
Sport massage–if done correctly–is not like a spa. Sport massage includes many movements, physical interaction, and some ‘homeworks’ to maintain massage result.
6. Massage does not have to be Painful
Massage does not have to hurt, therapy occurs when the client’s body is not bracing against the therapist. Pain after the session is normal. It can even help reveal areas of weakness that should receive future attention. Within 48 hours, the tightness should dissipate, and if the massage was administered correctly, you may even feel like you’re in a new body.
7. Your Therapist is not a Doctor
If you are injured and don’t have a diagnosis, immediately visit a doctor. Therapist does not diagnose. Although a therapist can identify and attempt to alleviate any tightness and inflammation in the body, if your problem doesn’t feel significantly better three days post-massage, you should likely consult a doctor.
8. Do not Exercise after Massage Session
Let your body process what has just happened, wait at least one day before doing exercise.
9. Consider Incorporating Massage Into Your Training Plan
Like mentioned above, sport massage can help reducing injury and enhance performance. Therefore, in addition to hard training, you should incorporate massage to your work plan.