Using sports massage to enhance your performance

Remedial Massage Athlete Physio Connex

Sports massage is a part of the process to help athletes prepare for competition, enhance athletic performance, help the athlete recover after exercise or competition, and as a manual therapy intervention for sports-related musculoskeletal injuries.

Geared specifically to the athlete, sports massage focuses on muscles that have seen a large degree of stress and use, often to the point of overuse. Normally, these are muscles that have seen repetitive and aggressive movement as a part of the overall sport or competition.

Athletes can prepare their bodies for the next training block post-competition and reduce the recovery period, which means a more efficient and more intense training session.


There are several key elements to sports massage:

Motion and Flexibility: Professional and superior athletes often have heavy training schedules and this leads to muscle rigidity. Sports massage can help relax overly tense muscles and provide additional flexibility. Used before a competition, it will relax the muscles for flexibility, improving performance.

Shortens Recovery Time: Exercise and competition is stressful on the body, which can lead to injury if proper precautions are not taken. Sports massages are ideal to help the body deal with this stress and injury prevention. A proper massage increases blood flow and lymph fluid, both assisting in the body’s natural healing process, speeding waste removal and general health improvement. Swelling and inflammation associated with physical activity is also reduced. Scar tissue, normal from a severe injury, can be lessened with massage.

Supply of Oxygen and Nutrients: Blood flow into muscles is vital to creating new tissue and increased strength and stamina. Massage increases blood flow for additional oxygen and nutrients.

Helps Eliminate By-Products of Exercise: Lactic and uric acids are natural by-products of exercise. Each can be lessened with blood and lymph flow in the body and increase the waste output by a sports massage.

Psychological Benefits: There is much to be said about psychology and sports. Many do not realise the value of a massage with sports and how a quality massage has more than just physical benefits. The body is only as strong as the mind, so having a strong mind that is relaxed and focused is a definite edge in highly competitive sports. A stressed athlete is not nearly as capable as one with a clear mind.

Reduces Pain: A body in pain is a sign of heavily-worked muscles. Massage increases blood and lymph fluid flow, thereby speeding the injury rehabilitation process. A massage also helps with pain from spasms and cramps, common with elite athletic training.


Contraindications in Sports Massage

Open wounds: Any cuts, lacerations, or grazes. Obvious really, but it has to be said. You should wait until the scar has properly formed. This is usually between one and two weeks.

Muscle ruptures: In the acute stage, there may still be bleeding. Massage will increase bleeding and tissue damage and prolong recovery. After the initial 48 to 72 hours, massage may be possible but it will depend on the extent of the injury and evaluation by your physiotherapist.

Tendon ruptures: The above also applies to tendon injuries. Complete ruptures are contraindications for massage and need consultation with medical professionals and physiotherapists.

Muscle and tendon partial tears: Massage may be suitable after a minimum period of 48 hours, longer for more serious injuries. A decision should be made in consult with your physiotherapist.

Contusions/corks: These are impact injuries causing bleeding within the muscle. Massage to a contusion too soon after the injury may cause further damage and may lead to Myositis Ossificans (bone growth within the muscle). Exposure to massage after contusions must be gradual.


Using remedial massage and physiotherapy to enhance injury recovery:

Following diagnosis by your physiotherapist and after the acute phase has passed, massage therapy may be indicated to help enhance injury recovery. As physiotherapists progress your rehabilitation program, massage therapy is useful to counteract muscular soreness and stiffness whilst also mobilising scar tissue, which allows you to ultimately perform your rehab at your best!


A sports massage can make a significant difference to the way that a athlete recovers from an injury, which can affect everything in their life from their job and daily activities to their mental state and overall wellbeing.


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