Sports Massage – Overview
Sports massage refers to a targeted massage therapy that’s directed towards decreasing muscle ache and improving flexibility and mobilization following a sporting event.
Sports massage is part of the regular athletic training program that’s quite effective in restoring and enhancing athletic performance following an event.
However, unlike its name, this type of massage therapy isn’t limited to sporting context. It can also be used in non-sporting context for general relaxation of the muscular skeletal system and can also be directed towards any specific problem areas such as shoulders, back and legs.
Sports massage aids in relieving muscular tension, breaks down muscle tension, help mobilize soft tissues and reduce pain.
Since sports massage isn’t limited to athletes and following a sporting event, this type of massage is beneficial following surgery to improve joint and muscle mobility. Sports massage also facilitates recovery and healing following an injury as a supportive treatment along with physiotherapy, osteopathy or chiropractic practices.
Now that you’re aware of health benefits that sports massage bring, let’s learn about the various massage techniques that are used in sports massage that help improve athletic performance. While there are several different massage techniques and variations available to massage therapists, the five most commonly used massage techniques used in sports massage include the following.
Massage Techniques Used in Sports Massage
#1. Stroking (Effleurage)
The hands-on massage technique involves the use of thumb, fingers, hands, elbows, and forearms in a series of circular strokes. Effleurage is typically used as the first technique in sports massage that helps relax muscles and improve the blood flow in a specific area. Moreover, since the therapist is stroking the specific area of the body, this technique also helps identify trigger points and tender, knotted areas.
The technique prepares the part of the body for the next technique used in sports massage that involves muscle manipulation.
#2. Kneading (Petrissage)
The kneading technique involves muscle manipulation using the palms, hands and knuckles. The technique is designed to relieve muscle soreness, remove the build up of lactic acid from the specific area and break up muscular knots. The technique aims to treat muscle soreness and improve recovery.
#3. Rhythmic Striking (Tapotement)
The third commonly used technique in sports massage involves the use of quick, light rhythmic strikes using the ulnar part of the hand or the knife edge to stimulate the soft muscular areas of the body. The technique improves blood flow, stimulates the nerve endings and help counter muscle contraction.
The basic rubbing technique requires the therapist to rub their hands together to create heat and friction and apply the heat to the affected area to break up scar tissue, improve blood flow and increase lymphatic flow.
#5. Shaking (Vibration)
Shaking or vibration involves the rapid back and forth movements using the heel of the hand to loosen up tight and knotted muscles.
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