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How Does Sports Massage Therapy Improve Athletic Performance?

Updated March 13, 2024

A sports massage is not your typical full-body massage. Sports massage therapy is a no-nonsense approach designed to target trouble areas and trigger points to improve athletic ability and prevent injuries. This type of massage is popular amongst athletes looking to sharpen their competitive edge but is also useful for anyone looking to maintain an active lifestyle while preventing injuries.

Sports massage therapy can be a great supplemental part of your training plan, or simply a way to treat muscle aches and pains so you can remain active and injury-free! Interested in exploring the benefits firsthand? Schedule a sports massage session with us and discover the transformative effects it can have on your overall well-being and athletic performance.

What is Sports Massage?

Sports massage therapy is a specialized, more vigorous form of soft tissue massage that focuses on areas of the body that are strained from overuse in repetitive and aggressive movements, such as playing sports.

By loosening the muscles and connective tissue and providing direct assistance exactly where the body needs it, sports massage therapists can help athletes remain flexible and better handle the stress of exercise and their sport. Ultimately, this allows athletes to train more effectively and recover faster with fewer injuries.

How long does a sports massage usually last?

You can expect a typical sports massage to last at least 60 minutes, but this can vary for each person depending on their level of fitness and exertion.

Should I train after a sports massage?

Sports massage stretches and loosens those tight muscles and stimulates associated trigger points, so expect to be sore. Unless you’re specifically having a pre-event sports massage, you’ll want to take it easy after your massage, or you run the risk of undoing all that valuable soft-tissue work. This means no strenuous exercise or training sessions for at least 24 hours!

Activities To Avoid After A Sports Massage

Here are some activities to avoid after your sports massage:

  • Running
  • Biking
  • CrossFit
  • Weight-lifting
  • HIIT aerobics
  • Power Yoga

Some gentle stretching, yoga, foam rolling, walking, or a soak in a salt bath will help with the soreness and better help your body see the benefits of sports massage.

How does sports massage differ from sports physiotherapy?

The approach, techniques, and goals of sports massage and sports physiotherapy differ significantly. Sports massage immediately releases and stretches tight muscles, knots and areas of strain. In contrast, sports physiotherapy focuses on longer-term rehabilitation of muscles and joints.

Are There Different Types Of Sports Massage?

Depending on your training, activity level, or event goals, there are a few different types of sports massage treatments you can utilize and schedule to improve your athletic performance:

  • Sports massage for training: scheduled between training sessions to reduce inflammation and swelling from strained muscles and help them heal more quickly.
  • Sports massage for injury and rehabilitation: helps to reduce pain, aid in recovery from an injury, and prevent the possibility of re-injury by breaking down scar tissue, reducing inflammation, and increasing flexibility.
  • Sports massage before an event: prevents injury and strain by warming up muscles and joints in preparation for exertion.
  • Sports massage after an event: reduces recovery time and helps reduce soreness.

The techniques used for sports massage therapy are similar to those used in deep tissue massage and can involve kneading, trigger pointing, friction and vibration, to name a few. Sports massage differs from deep tissue by targeting specific areas based on injury prevention or improving athletic performance.

Benefits Of Sports Massage For Athletes

There are many benefits of sports massage, and research has shown that it can help athletes in a few key areas:

  • Sports massage focuses on manipulating soft tissue, enhancing blood flow, and delivering fresh oxygen and nutrients to the tissue. This is crucial in helping stressed muscle tissue recover, and ensures the body can absorb the full effects of training.
  • After an intense training session, a sports massage causes mitochondria (the cells responsible for converting nutrients into energy) to enlarge and grow new supplies more rapidly. This means a sports massage can improve endurance performance!
  • A good post-training massage will help the body cool down, resulting in less recovery time between workouts. Even just 10 minutes significantly reduces inflammation in the muscles, leading to faster recovery time and improved long-term muscle health.

Other benefits of sports massage therapy include:

  • Relief from muscle soreness and fatigue
  • Improved flexibility and mobility
  • Reduced swelling resulting in faster muscle recovery
  • Ability to address muscle tightness early, before it becomes too problematic
  • Control muscle soreness and strain so you can continue to do what you love!

Are you looking for a sports massage therapist in St. Albert?

Depending on your training schedule and activity level, it is recommended that you schedule a sports massage once every two to six weeks.

If you’re ready to maximize your athletic potential, or looking to maintain your active lifestyle injury-free, book an appointment with one of our experienced sports massage therapists today!

Meet Our Sports Massage Therapists