Sports Massage

By: Kristin Snellback
Special to the
Oahu Island News

What do Joe Montana, Martina Navratilova and Michael Jordan have in common? All three are athletes who reached the top of their sport with the help of massage therapy. Each found that massage helps them maintain their level of fitness as well as recover more quickly from injuries. Athletes on both the national and local level take ad-
vantage of sports massage.

With the increased interest in sports and fitness, many people besides world-class athletes take advantage of sports massage. Both the weekend athlete and the serious athlete in training can encounter soreness and injury, making sports massage beneficial no matter how athletic a person is.

Sports massage is a specialty within the field of massage therapy that focuses specifically on assisting the training process, preventing injury and aiding the healing process when injuries occur.

While much of sports massage stems from Swedish therapeutic massage, there are several important differences. In general, sports massage techniques are deeper, more vigorous, more intense, and more specific.

The benefits of sports massage:

  Prevents muscle and tendon injuries

  Reduces the strain and discomfort of training and chronic strain patterns.

  Enables the athlete to recover more quickly from injury

  Enhances athletic training

The phases of sports massage

  Maintenance Massage can assist the training process by focusing on potential trouble spots before they become injuries.

  Pre-event Massage stimulates circulation, calms nervous tension, and prepares the athlete for optimal performance while reducing the chances of injury.

  Post-event Massage relieves soreness and assists in the removal of lactic acid and other waste products.

  Rehabilitative Massage can help speed the healing of sports injuries.

Pre-event massage generally takes place at a sporting event. Massage therapists are often behind the scenes at national and international competitions such as the Olympics and the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament. Before an event, massage is used to help the athlete warm up, to get the blood moving and to help the athlete relax mentally.

Post-event massage assists in reducing muscle spasms and waste products are flushed away to help the athlete recover from the prolonged exertion.

Injury treatment or rehabilitative massage can help speed the healing of sports injuries. Tendinitis, sprains, shin splints and other common injuries respond well to massage therapy.

Everyone, from children, soccer moms and dads to marathon runners, can benefit from sports massage. Sports massage can assist the athlete in all phases of competition reducing soreness during the training process, giving a head start before the competition and speeding the recovery after the event.