Sports massage is not just for those who lead active sporting lives or who have suffered sports injuries, but it can help anyone improve both physical health and mental wellbeing. A Sports massage can affect what is known as a sympathetic or parasympathetic response to the individual body systems and afterward clients experience the benefits. In order to understand how these improvements work, it is important to know what is involved in sports massage and the difference between this and other forms of massage.

What Is Sports Massage?

Sports massage involves the stretching, squeezing, and pumping of soft tissue in order to improve better mobility of the tissues and give an improvement in the flow of lymph, blood, and other fluids. Whenever the body is put under some form of physical stress and tension due to training or exercise, it impacts these soft tissue areas. Minor injuries that occur as the result of overuse or exertion can be treated efficiently and quickly using sports massage.

The aim of sports massage is to help recuperation from personal injury or training or used as a warmup and cool down technique just before and after competition or exercise. Sports massages tend to be tailored to the individual and the type of sport they undertake but therapists still have to have a thorough understanding of the human physical and skeletal systems. Sports massages are designed to work on areas of tension in the body, either full or half body massage concentrating on finding and releasing knots that have built up in the soft tissues.

The techniques used during a sports massage include soft tissue methods such as stretching, rubbing, and compressions,  for stimulation of the circulatory system, as well as warm-up and relaxation. Stiff and tight soft tissue areas of the body are worked on to allow permeability of the tissues. This means that essential fluids can pass through these areas more effectively and efficiently to allow them to do their job to the optimum level.

What Are the Psychological Effects?

One of the main effects of a sports massage is to produce what is called a sympathetic effect. The brain, which is the body’s main control center, will produce endorphins, the “feel-good” chemical, and adrenaline, the “energy” hormone, after experiencing a vigorous massage. When the body experiences a good workout, a run or brisk walk, or any form of vigorous activity, endorphins are released into the bloodstream and the person feels the benefit. This is what is known as the “natural high”. For some people who are not physically able to take part in sports or move around as easily, having a sports remedial massage can produce the same effect.

As well as this sympathetic response, the massage also releases tightness and tensions in the muscles in the body. Mental and postural (the way in which people work using computers), creates that tension held in the neck and shoulder area and along the arms, and joints. A parasympathetic response to a sports massage is to release all these tense areas leaving the individual feeling less stressed and much more relaxed mentally.

What Are the Physical Benefits?

The sports massage works on releasing tension in the soft tissues which have become tight, and overall flexibility is promoted, allowing free movement of joints attached to the muscle areas. The tissues go back to their natural movements as the pressure and stress are released. Being able to move, twist, turn and lift without restriction is a great physical benefit for any individual.

Circulation is improved as the blood carrying essential nutrients around the body, is once more able to flow without restriction. The tiny microscopic holes in the muscle sheath become less restricted as tension and pressure are released allowing the circulatory system to remove waste products for the muscles(such as lactic acid).

Having reviewed both the psychological and physical health benefits of sports massage, it is clear to see that this treatment can help anyone with their physical and mental wellbeing.