Studies show benefits for the body and the mind.
Holistic practices are becoming increasingly common and trendy in Western medicine. Whether its acupuncture or a massage, treatments that heal and restore the mind and body should become a part of your regular health routine. Perfect for the working individual, a sports massage relieves tension and soreness in overused muscles, with physiological and psychological benefits.
Theories behind the benefits of a sports massage cite increased flexibility, increased blood flow and a reduction in blood lactate levels as possible ways to delay muscle soreness, according to the North American Journal of Sports Physical Therapy.
For Amanda Long, a licensed massage therapist at The Teal Center for Therapeutic Bodywork, a sports massage acts as a “check engine light” through which massage therapists can feel muscle tightness and stress to warn athletes of potential overuse. The goal of a sports massage is to “help people get back to a neutral point so the muscles can [be worked] to their full potential.”
Long advocates for an expanded definition of sport in sports massages. “Sitting all day or walking with a backpack impact the body,” she says. “[Sports massages] keep you playing. Keep you doing what you want to do, what you love doing, pain free. If you use your body, you can benefit from a sports massage,” she says.
Common techniques include massaging by hand, stretching muscles, and using cooling cream and warming pads. “Each sports massage is [individually] tailored to work out the [overused] muscles and parts of the body that are tight,” says Long.
Scientific experimentation also shows that there are also psychological benefits to a massage. In a study published by the British Journal of Sports Medicine, when given a sports massage, people had a higher perception of recovery. Studies also showed significant improvement in mood and a reduction in anxiety. “Recovery is just as important as the workout, a massage can help your mind recover,” explains Long.
Advising people to listen to their bodies, Long recommends getting a sports massage one to three times per month. Athletes that are in the midst of training for an event should get a sports massage up to every other week, making it a part of their regular fitness routine.