Massage Therapy for an Athletic
American College of Massage Therapy
athletes look for an edge that can help them train more effectively,
perform better or overcome injuries quickly. The last several decades
have witnessed a dramatic rise in the level of athletic performance.
Advances in training and conditioning techniques are allowing the human
body to become a finely tuned machine. The limits of speed, endurance
and strength are pushed every day and each year brings new world records.
leap in performance can be attributed to any number of key factors:
- enhanced understanding of how nutrition fuels the body;
- enlightened attitudes about psychological aspects of competition;
- scientific advances in the study of body structure and function.
growing awareness and inclusion of sports massage therapy has become
a key component of the high performance mix as much a part of
an athletes training or quest for performance enhancement as a
carefully monitored diet. Massage Therapists are an integral part of
the new athletic regimen from clinic to field, Massage Therapists
are helping athletes work their way to even greater success.
sport and athletic event uses muscle groups in a different way. Sports
massage therapists are familiar with each muscle, the muscle groups
and how they are affected by the specific movements and stresses of
each sport. They also are trained in the appropriate uses of hydrotherapy
massage therapy is often based on Swedish massage and frequently includes
the use of one or more of the following techniques:
Muscle-specific applications of the standard effleurage, petrissage,
vibration, and tapotement techniques.
Rhythmic compression into muscles used to create a deep hypremia and
softening effect in the tissues. It is generally used as a warm-up for
deeper, more specific massage work.
Friction techniques applied in a general manner to create a stretching
and broadening effect in large muscle groups; or on site-specific muscle
and connective tissue, deep transverse friction applied to reduce adhesions
and to help create strong, flexible repair during the healing process.
Trigger Point/Tender Point Massage
Combined positioning and specific finger or thumb pressure into trigger/tender
points in muscle and connective tissue, to reduce the hypersensitivity,
muscle spasms and referred pain patterns that characterize the point.
Left untreated, such trigger/tender points often lead to restricted
and painful movement of entire body regions.
Stimulation of specialized lymphatic-drainage pathways, which improves
the bodys removal of edemas and effusion.
Performance Edge: The Contributions of Sports Massage
sports massage by a qualified Massage Therapist can provide an athlete
with several performance advantages.
sports massage can:
the chance of injury, by relieving stress points in muscles, before
they result in restrictions or spasm;
improve range of motion and muscle flexibility, resulting in improved
power and performance;
shorten recovery time between workouts;
maximize the supply of nutrients and oxygen through increased blood
facilitate the bodys regular processes for recovery from exercise;
decrease performance anxiety and sharpen mental focus.
Three areas of Sports Massage
trainers know that keeping an athlete in top physical form requires
a regular prevention and maintenance program, as well as on-site treatment
before and after an athletic event. And, when strains, sprains, bruises,
or other major injuries occur, a variety of treatment modalities may
be necessary to speed healing and reduce discomfort. Sports massage
therapy can help certified athletic trainers in all of these areas.
Maintenance Massage - An effective maintenance program is based on the
massage therapists understanding of anatomy and kinesiology, combined
with an expert knowledge of which muscles are used in a given sport
and which are likely candidates for trouble. By zeroing in on particular
muscle groups and working specific tissues, the sports massage therapist
helps the athlete maintain or improve range of motion and muscle flexibility.
The overall objective of a maintenance program is to help the athlete
reach optimal performance through injury-free training.
Massage - Pre- and post-event massage therapy are tailored for distinct
purposes. Pre-event massage is used as a supplement to an athletes
warm-up to enhance circulation and reduce excess muscle and mental tension
prior to competition. It also improves tissue pliability, readying the
athlete for top performance. Post-event massage, on the other hand,
is geared toward reducing the muscle spasms and metabolic build-up that
occur with vigorous exercise. Various sports massage techniques enhance
the bodys own recovery process, improving the athletes return
to high-level training and competition, and reducing the risk of injury.
Massage - Even with maintenance massage, muscles may cramp, tear, bruise,
and ache. Sports massage can speed healing and reduce discomfort during
the rehabilitation process. Soft tissue techniques employed by sports
massage therapists are effective in the management of both acute and
chronic injuries. For example, adding lymphatic massage to the standard
care procedure in the acute stage of injury will improve control
of secondary, edema formation and enhance lymphatic uptake of fluid
throughout the healing cycle. Trigger point techniques reduce the spasms
and pain that occur, both in the injured and compensation
muscles. Cross-fiber friction techniques applied during the subacute
and maturation phases of healing improve the formation of strong and
flexible repair tissue, which is vital in maintaining full pain-free
range of motion during rehabilitation.
all cases, such massage techniques are employed in collaboration
with other appropriate medical care. For example, encouraging
circulation around a bruise, but not directly on it, through the
use of compression, cross-fiber techniques or even long, deep
strokes is only used after appropriate medical referral and diagnostics
indicate that there are no clots formed in the area which may