3 Reasons to Make Massage Part of Your Training Program
I get asked all the time: "What's sports massage?"
Having worked as a massage therapist in England, California, and Oregon, I will say that the term was better understood in the UK, where I did my initial training. Often, clients would book with me for “sports massage” simply with the understanding that it was likely to be a deeper, more specific treatment. And I got quite a few referrals from a local doctor who kept recommending sports massage to his patients with headaches and migraines!
Over here in the US, sports massage isn’t understood in the same way. The usual assumption is that it’s something only athletes would be interested in.
...to which I will say that yes, it’s great for athletes, but anyone who exercises regularly or trains in a sport at any level has some of the needs of an athlete. Going to the gym a few times a week? Wednesday doubles at the tennis club? Training for a half marathon? It's time you started seeing yourself as an athlete.
Let’s delve a little deeper.
Certain massage techniques are definitely considered to be "sports" techniques. Various stretches, soft tissue release, or the use of percussion tools (massage guns)... an elbow into the piriformis, or a deep psoas release. (You know exactly what I'm talking about – I saw that wince!)
From the therapist’s side, an understanding of the demands of training and the requirements of different sports on the human body play a big part. But more than anything, what makes a session sports massage is mostly about how it’s used, and what the treatment goals are. Many massage techniques could be considered sports massage in the right context.
I plan sessions differently whether they are to support your training or get you ready for racing; to help you recover from a heavy training load, or to address an ache or injury. Adjustments are made based on your needs at the time, and where you are in your training week, training cycle, or race calendar.
Read on for the key benefits of sports massage – and why you should absolutely add massage to your training program!
1. Massage Helps Maintain Muscle and Joint Health
Maintenance massages should be scheduled at regular intervals throughout your training cycle. The frequency will depend on your sport, goals, workout volume, schedule, and budget. For some, it may be twice a week – for others, once a month. The aim of a maintenance plan is to optimize the quality and range of movement and keep your body healthy and happy, while helping to prevent injuries and staying on top of nagging aches. A regular massage can catch budding concerns before they turn into injury. This type of maintenance is for everyone who’s active and wants to stay healthy!
2. Massage Prepares Your Body for Competition
A pre-competition massage includes lots of mobilizations, dynamic stretching, and usually just a light massage. The aim is to get your soft tissues warmed up, circulation going, and get you prepared for the physical demands of competition as well as feeling mentally ready and focused. A pre-competition massage is best done any time between two days to just minutes before your time to shine.
3. Massage Helps You Recover from Competition and Hard Workouts
Massage is a great tool to help your body recover from a tough workout, a hard training week, or competition. Recovery treatments can take place immediately after you finish, or up to a few days after. Again, the techniques, goals, and benefits will vary depending on the timing. The recovery window is a perfect time for a more relaxing massage and a good stretch to lengthen muscle fibers and flush out metabolic waste. Done soon after finishing a race or workout, massage will also help reduce muscle soreness in the coming days.
If you’re looking for support in your training in 2021, reach out! I offer massage packages for regular maintenance and love working with all athletes.