Massage Therapy and the Athlete

loon mountain massageIf you are one of the millions of people around the globe who are involved in some type of regular exercise, sport, or athletic team, you know the benefits of staying active. Reduced risk of heart disease, maintaining a healthy weight, improved circulation, and more energy are just a few of the positive outcomes of living an active lifestyle. But did you also know that the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) cites sports massage therapy as an aid to improve an athlete’s performance?

Sports massage therapy can helps all types of athletes improve their performance and recover quickly after experiencing a sports injury. This type of massage targets pain and aches in the body’s soft tissue area, aims to reduce muscle stiffness, and treats injuries resulting from physical activity. Some studies have been done showing an increase in useful energy by growing new mitochondria as a result of massage therapy. Now that is a great excuse to get a back rub!

Professional sports massage therapists may work in environments such as:

  • Marathons/triathlons
  • Bike races
  • Track and field events
  • Olympic games
  • Professional sports events
  • Private clinics

The AMTA cites research showing evidence (see link above) that massage may help to:

  • Reduce swelling
  • Reduce tension in the muscles
  • Prevent injuries
  • Enhance performance
  • Improve tissue function

What to Expect

Your sports massage therapist should be knowledgeable in the sport(s) or activities you participate in, in order to deliver the specific massage technique for your body. Since each recreational activity uses muscle groups differently, different muscles must be targeted in order to be effective. By utilizing trigger point therapy, Swedish massage, and other therapies, sports massage therapy may prove helpful before an athletic event to prepare muscles for peak performance.

As with any type of massage, ask your massage therapist a few questions before you develop a patient relationship with him or her. Two important questions include: Are you licensed to practice? and, What type of training have you received? Expect your massage therapist to ask you a few questions at your initial visit in order to understand your health goals and determine the best course of therapy. He or she should check with you during the massage to be sure you are comfortable. You should feel free to be honest during the process.

Massage for Better Health

Choosing to take care of your body by exercising, taking part in athletic activities, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is one way to ensure a longer and fuller life. Just as important as choosing the right shoes, the right equipment, and the right workout gear is choosing how and who will take care of the muscles, tissue function, and internal facets of a healthy body. By partnering with a qualified and professional sports massage therapist, you can benefit by adding enhanced performance, injury prevention, and improvement to your exercise regimen. Whether you are a novice athlete, a professional, or part of a weekend softball team, massage therapy could work for you.

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