Sports Massage has become an integral part of the new athletic regimen. It is believed that massage can provide an extra edge to the athletes who take part in high performance sports. Massage has now become a necessary ingredient for a complete workout. A complete workout routine includes not only the exercise, but also caring for the wear-and-tear and minor injuries that naturally occur with strenuous movement. Sports massage is gradually becoming a popular form of treatment for soft tissue injuries. Apart from injuries a regular sports massage is also being used as an injury prevention tactic.
Regular exercise increases muscular endurance and strength, improves flexibility and respiratory function and enhances heart efficiency. The body adapts gradually to the demand of physical activities. The physiological and psychological benefits of massage make it an ideal complement to a total conditioning program.
This training and conditioning of a body is covered in three phases: the first is the tearing down phase where the body is pushed to its limit, the body ache most of us feel after we have just started any form of exercise or physical activity; the recovery phase where the body rebuilds itself, when we repeat the activity over and over with less and less restraints; and, finally, the build-up phase where the body accepts the new standards of physical demands.
Massage for sports injuries is a particularly effective way of dealing with the injuries that occur in the tearing down phase. A lot of approaches and tactics are applied to take care of a particular injury. People have acquired expertise on many sports injuries over the years.
Recovering from any injury is a long and a tiring process. While the main aim of physical rehabilitation is to increase strength and flexibility, the process is often limited to the injured body part being restored to its original state.
Massage can be a major complement to normal injury remedy procedures. By encouraging circulatory movement and relaxing muscles, massage helps the body pump more oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs. This allows the rehabilitating injured area to become more flexible and heal at an accelerated rate.
Massage has multi fold benefits apart from the physical comfort it provides. It manifests its effects in three ways; namely physical, physiological and mental.
It can help maintain the body condition, prevent injuries, cure and restore mobility to injured muscle tissue, boost performance and extend the overall life of the sporting career. Increased tissue permeability – Deep massage causes the pores in tissue membranes to open, enabling fluids and nutrients to pass through. This helps remove waste products such as lactic acid and encourage the muscles to take up oxygen and nutrients which help them recover quicker.
Massage can stretch tissues that could not be stretched in the usual methods. Bundles of muscle fibers are stretched lengthwise as well as sideways. Massage can also stretch the sheath or fascia that surrounds the muscle, so releasing any tension or pressure build up. Break down scar tissue – Scar tissue is the result of previous injuries or trauma and can affect muscle, tendons and ligaments. Hard training can make tissues hard and inelastic. Massage helps turn this around by stretching the tissues. Massage same as exercise, increases the blood flow to tissues. Massage opens or dilates the blood vessels and by stretching them, this enables nutrients to pass through more easily.
As for the Physiological effects, massage helps in pain reduction. Tension and waste products in muscles often cause pain. Massage helps reduce this in many ways including releasing the endorphins. Muscles relax through heat generated, circulation and stretching. Mechanoreceptors which sense touch, pressure, tissue length and warmth are stimulated causing a reflex relaxation. For psychological effects; massage helps with anxiety reduction through relaxation.