What is a Hot Sports Massage?
Sports massage was originally developed to help athletes prepare their bodies for optimal performance, recover after a big event, or function well during training. Sports massage emphasizes prevention and healing of injuries to the muscles and tendons.
But you don't have to be and athlete to benefit from sports massage. Sports massage is also good for people with injuries, sore neck and shoulders, chronic pain or restricted range of motion. The massage therapist generally concentrates on a specific problem area.
What Happens During Sports Massage?
Sports massage is a type of Swedish massage that stimulates circulation of blood and lymph fluids. Some sports massage movements use trigger point therapy to break down adhesions (knots in the muscles) and increase range of motion.
When Should I Get A Sports Massage?
A sports massage is a good choice if you have a specific problem -- a tender knee from running, for instance. It is also be a good idea to see a movement therapist, who can help you identify and correct the movement pattern that might be causing your injury in the first place. The therapist generally focuses in on the problem area -- a frozen shoulder or pulled hamstring, for instance -- rather than giving you a full-body massage.
Sometimes men who are new to the spa are more comfortable getting a sports massage because it sounds more masculine. That's fine, even if they don't have an injury. No matter what type of massage you choose, the therapist will check in with you about what your needs and expectations are for the massage.
Benefits of Sports Massage?
Pumping - The stroking movements in massage suck fluid through blood vessels and lymph vessels. By increasing the pressure in front of the stroke, a vacuum is created behind. This is especially important in tight or damaged muscle tissue as a tight muscle will squeeze blood out like a sponge, depriving the tissues of vital nutrients and energy to repair.
Increased tissue permeability - Deep massage causes the pores in tissue membranes to open, enabling fluids and nutrients to pass through. This helps remove waste products such as lactic acid and encourage the muscles to take up oxygen and nutrients which help them recover quicker.
Stretching - Massage can stretch tissues that could not be stretched in the usual methods. Bundles of muscle fibers are stretched lengthwise as well as sideways. Massage can also stretch the sheath or fascia that surrounds the muscle, so releasing any tension or pressure build up.
Break down scar tissue - Scar tissue is the result of previous injuries or trauma and can effect muscle, tendons and ligaments. This can lead to inflexible tissues that are prone to injury and pain.
Improve tissue elasticity - Hard training can make tissues hard and inelastic. This is one reason why hard training may not result in improvements. Massage helps reverse this by stretching the tissues.
Opens micro-circulation - Massage does increase blood flow to tissues, but so does exercise. What massage also does is open or dilate the blood vessels and by stretching them this enables nutrients to pass through more easily.
Physiological effects of sports massage
Pain reduction - Tension and waste products in muscles can often cause pain. Massage helps reduce this in many ways including releasing the bodies endorphins.
Relaxation - Muscles relax through heat generated, circulation and stretching. Mechanoreceptors which sense touch, pressure, tissue length and warmth are stimulated causing a reflex relaxation.
Psychological effects of massage
Anxiety reduction - through the effects mentioned above relaxation is induced and so reduces anxiety levels.
Invigorating - if massage is done with brisk movements such as what would be done before an event then this can produces an invigorating feeling.
Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.