Massage Benefits for Athletes
Are you an athlete stressed from your jam-packed schedule between games and training? Were you injured during a game? Do you want to relax after a stressful season? A massage can not only help you relax, but it can reduce both physical and physiological stress.
Types of Massage
Being an athlete requires a lot of hard work and dedication. It is essential after so much physical turmoil, that the body gets an opportunity to replenish its energy. Athletes have various options when getting massages.
- A deep tissue massage is ideal for treating a sports injury or strain. In this, a combination of slow strokes and finger pressure helps to release the tightness and tension held in the muscles and connective tissues.
- On the other hand, if one is looking for a warm-up or a cool-down massage, a sports massage is the best option. It not only relieves tight muscles but also improves circulation, increases tissue elasticity, and reduces muscle tension.
- Lastly, if one wants to reduce stress and relax, a relaxing soothing massage is ideal. It is a smooth and gentle treatment that promotes a general sense of relaxation, reduces muscular tension and improves blood circulation.
All types of massages have shown benefits for athletes, including reducing pain and inflammation, faster recovery from injuries, increased flexibility and mobility, better blood circulation, and improved mental well-being.
Benefits of massage
1. Reduction in pain and inflammation
During strenuous exercise, the muscles experience a certain amount of exercise-induced trauma and inflammation, making it very common for athletes to have mild or chronic pain and inflammation. In some cases, this pain starts impacting the athlete’s performance.
Massage therapy helps reduces this inflammation- it triggers the release of energy created by the cell’s powerhouse, the mitochondria, helping muscles retain energy and reduce inflammation. With inflammation comes pain. Therefore by reducing muscle inflammation, muscle pain is automatically reduced too. The reduction in pain and inflammation is a contributing factor toward improved performance.
2. Faster recovery
Massage therapy does not only help reduce muscle pain and inflammation, but it also helps in healing from an injury.
A study conducted in 2017 showed that an hour of massage therapy could reduce the delayed onset of muscle soreness caused by extensive training as it helps joints and muscle injuries to heal faster.
3. Increases mobility and flexibility
For an athlete, an increased range of mobility and flexibility has multiple benefits, such as improved performance, reduced risk of injury, and faster recovery. Massages help in improving mobility and flexibility. A regular massage increases blood flow to the muscle tissues, which helps relieve muscle tension, reduce soreness, and recover faster. Massage therapy to boost mobility is recommended two days before the game.
4. Better blood circulation
Blood circulation also impacts the athlete’s performance. Healthy blood circulation ensures good performance. A massage improves blood circulation and improves lymph flow, leading to improved vascular functionality.
Better blood circulation means improved blood oxygen circulation, allowing the athlete to breathe easily and smoothly, hence improving stamina and performance.
5. Improved mental wellbeing
A massage can improve the mental well-being of an athlete in multiple ways- it reduces psychological tension, improves sleep, and provides optimum relaxation.
A sports massage helps the body release endorphins- a neurotransmitter that acts as the body’s natural pain killer. In addition to reducing pain, endorphins also help reduce anxiety and improve mood, thus leading to better mental well-being.
After a stressful game or strenuous exercise, the body requires ample rest to recover and replenish its resources. The best way to gain this rest is through sleep. A massage has the added benefit of improving sleep quality. A massage reduces tension and improves relaxation, leading to better sleep. Moreover, proper sleep boosts performance and promotes faster recovery time when injured.
The competitive and busy lives led by athletes mean that they don’t have enough time to relax, increasing their stress levels. A massage can help them relax- it activates the parasympathetic nervous system, i.e., the part of the nervous system that helps a person relax. This helps the muscle system improve functionality during physical activity. Moreover, a sports massage will stimulate the body and mind, creating a feeling of wholeness physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Overall, a massage has various benefits that physically and mentally help athletes. Getting a regular massage means that athletes will face fewer problems related to pain and inflammation, recover from injuries faster, and have better mobility, flexibility, blood circulation, and well-being.