Sports massage has many benefits. The healthy athlete, as well as the injured athlete, may benefit from quality massage therapy. Listed are some of the many benefits of sports massage for athletes.
Increased suppleness and resiliency in the muscles, tendons and ligaments. This decreases the chances of injuries and improves the recovery from injuries.
Improved circulation. The blood flow is improved to the areas that are massaged. This increase in circulation helps provide the nutrients needed for recovery and building of new muscle tissue. This improved circulation also helps to remove waste products and toxins often produced in working or injured muscles.
Improved proprioception. Massage helps to improve the mind-muscle link and therefore improves fine and gross motor control. Knowing the position of the body, and its parts in relation to each other, is an important aspect of any sport activity.
Inflammation and swelling reduction. Massage above and around an injured area may help reduce swelling and inflammation.
Increased joint mobility. Joints; or the muscles surrounding them, that are traumatized or overworked tend to tighten and become stiff. Massaging the muscles and soft tissues around a joint may help relax the joint and lead to overall relaxation.
Pain reduction. Massage helps relieve painful muscle spasms and cramping. It also helps increase blood flow to peripheral nerves that may be damaged from injury.
Injury treatment. Many injuries, especially soft-tissue injuries, will benefit from massage treatment. This is especially true during recovery. Massage helps to break up scar tissue and lesions that often cause stiffness and pain during recovery and helps athletes return to a normal range of motion quicker.
Improving hormone release and lymphatic system response. Some hormones are secreted in response to the stimulation of the muscles and their nerve cells. Massage stimulates these sites and may open the hormone receptors in these sites as well. Improving circulation helps overall lymphatic response as well.
Relaxation. The reduction of pain and stiffness helps bring about a state of relaxation. Massage has also been shown to release hormones responsible for relaxation and euphoria.
And don't forget to incorporate some gentle stretching exercises with your massage; as this will help to further enhance the benefits of massage.
Stretching is one of the most under-utilised techniques for improving athletic performance and getting rid of those annoying sports injuries. Don't make the mistake of thinking that something as simple as stretching won't be effective.