Sports massage or athletic massage is increasingly being recognized as a valuable asset to athletes, improving their ability to perform at their highest levels, while reducing their chances of injury. In 1984, the Olympics introduced athletic massage for the first time to the athletes competing in the summer games in Los Angeles.
As a result, athletic massage has now become a staple in the training regimens of athletes around the world. It has now also become the preferred method of rehabilitation for athletes after receiving minor sports injuries.
Why Athletic Massage?
Athletic massage allows athletes to perform at their optimal levels, while making it easier for the body to naturally heal and restore itself. This enables athletes to participate in very rigorous and demanding activities more often and for longer periods of time, while at the same time, reducing their chances of injury. Effective sports massage therapy is able to do this by identifying and eliminating the conditions in the soft tissues of our body that are most vulnerable to injury.
In the event an athlete actually does suffer a sports injury, athletic massage will help to restore mobility and flexibility to the injured tissues, while reducing the time necessary for the body to recover.
Evidence shows that regular athletic massage may even extend an athlete’s career.
Adaptive Sports Massage
Adaptive athletic massage refers to the techniques used to treat athletes with disabilities. It requires additional knowledge and training based upon the disability of the athlete. These disabilities can be either mental ( as in the case of Special Olympians), or physical (as in the case of amputees or athletes with hearing or sight deficiencies).
Though these athletes don’t usually receive the recognition they deserve, their training, conditioning and need for proper athletic massage is as important to their careers as it is for any other athlete. And, as more and more of these special athletes begin and continue to compete, the need for trained therapists in adaptive athletic massage will continue to grow.
Benefits of Sports Massage
It is well known in sports training, that in order to improve one’s strength and endurance, there is a certain amount of overload ( stress applied to the body that is greater than what it is used to) necessary to force the body to adapt and grow stronger.
Proper conditioning calls for an acceptable amount of overload to be placed upon the body, followed by a resting period by which the body can heal and adapt to the new level of demands placed upon it. Injury most often occurs when the intensity of that training or activity exceeds the body’s natural ability to heal and recuperate. Athletic massage has proven to be helpful in allowing our bodies to endure new stressors, recuperate and then adapt.
Some of the major benefits of athletic massage are;
Reasons to Avoid Sports Massage
Massage therapists should avoid doing anything that might make you liable or subject to malpractice. Every athlete seeking treatment should first be evaluated by a physician prior to any treatment.
Doctors treat injuries sustained by an athlete and are responsible for the athlete’s rehabilitation. A massage therapist or trainer should only work under the direction of a physician and should follow the guidelines set forth by the physician to be a part of that athlete’s rehab.
As for athletes seeking a sports massage, a massage of any type should be avoided if any of the following conditions exist;
If any of these conditions are present, athletic massage should be avoided, unless recommended by a practicing licensed physician and should then only be performed by an experienced massage therapist.