The countdown to the Super Bowl has begun and the football hype is growing quickly. Your husband, sons, and maybe even you yourself, are out back throwing the football around for a couple of hours a few times a week. For those of you who go really hard with your backyard football can probably say you can feel the effects of all that physical activity the next day, or even the entire week thereafter. Seeking a sports massage after increased physical activity, such as playing football, may be just the thing you need for those sore muscles.
A sports massage does far more than promote relaxation and pain relief to the person receiving the massage. This particular form of massage therapy is tailored toward the athletic, physically active type. The goal is performance improvement as well as helping the body to recover from sports-related injuries. Most sports tend to involve highly repetitive motions, such as track runners or tennis players. Through sports, massage therapy muscle tension can be easily alleviated.
Sports Massage Techniques
A sports massage involves a combination of deep tissue massage techniques. These techniques stimulate blood flow as well as the circulation of lymph fluid. Both of these actions promoting healing as well as improved well-being. Even further, sports massage therapy is also used when a person is experiencing painful knots or adhesions in their muscles. Undergoing sports massage therapy will allow for an increased range of motion.
Sports massages aren’t just beneficial for pro ball players. Whether you hit the gym a few days a week or even work a desk job 9-5, five days a week a sports massage could be exactly what you’ve been needing to alleviate your day to day aches and pains.
There are four different categories of sports massage therapies, each unique to the client and their particular situation. One can receive a sports massage before extreme physical activity (“pre-event”), after physical activity (“post-event”), on a regular basis while doing weekly training that may be for a big event (Usually for extreme athletes), and finally, restorative (“rehabilitative”) after an athlete has sustained a sports-related injury. All of which are self-explanatory, and each session tailored to the client’s particular needs at the time. Unlike a full body massage where the therapist doesn’t target any area specifically, with a sports massage a focus will be set on the areas of the body that have been most affected by recent physical activity.
The techniques used in a sports massage aims to stretch the fascia (connective tissue in the body that separates/surrounds muscles), which is known as a myofascial release technique. Poor posture while sitting for prolonged periods of time, as well as physical trauma occurring from intense physical activity, can lead to fascia becoming hard, in turn losing its elasticity. This decrease in elasticity leads to a significant decrease in flexibility. The stretching and manipulation that occurs during a sports massage will allow the fascia to relax, allowing the surrounding tissues to regain their flexibility and range of motion.
Each sports massage therapist works with different techniques that they find to be most effective. A few of the various techniques that you may run into include trigger point work, muscle energy, and soft tissue release. Trigger points focus therapy on specific points in the muscle that are known to cause pains and thus help alleviate the pains that may be occurring in that area. The muscle energy technique focuses on stretching, as well as relaxing tight postural muscles through work with muscle resistance. Soft tissue release, on the other hand, is more focused on stretching localized areas of tendons that may be experiencing some tightness or pains related to physical activity.
What to Expect After The Massage
When going to get a sports massage you should anticipate feeling sore for a few days following your massage. This is due to the intensity of the therapy as well as the biological effect that the massage has on your muscles. A sports massage’s aim is to help remove waste products from the muscles, therefore as your body works to metabolize these waste products. You may feel a bit sore, thirsty, or even faint during this time period. It’s not uncommon to feel cold during the recovery time period after your massage either. It can take 24-48 hours for the true effects of the massage to be felt. After this time passes by you should expect to feel comfortable and rejuvenated.