One of the main reasons people have a sports massage is due to an injury they have sustained through various activities such as whilst competing in their sport, at work or in a public place.
Other types of massage will aid the recovery process such as deep tissue and lymphatic drainage but not as well as a sports massage because of the techniques involved and the deep pressure involved in the treatment. Sports massage first came about to help athletes with their injuries as far back as when the Greeks first started holding the Olympic games. It was known that those involved would have regular treatment during the tournament to keep away injuries and prepare them for sporting activity.
In the 20th century it became extremely popular with professional athletes so much so that it has become a regular part of their training regime. But sports massage has now made its way into the world of amateur sport and to those who are not involved in sport. This is because of the realisation that sports massage can help with medical issues and work related injuries, with doctors and other medical professionals referring patients to sports massage therapists. Those suffering with Repetitive Strain injuries will benefit from sports massage by relieving the pressure in the area and reducing tension in the muscles and tendons. It can also help those with chronic back issues, fibromyalgia, migraines, post surgery patients and more serious neurological disorders.
Why sports massage is great for those with injuries is because not only are the muscles palpated but the tendons and ligaments are massaged to reduce the build up of scar tissue and inflexible muscles fibres to have occurred through injury. Swelling an inflammation will massively decrease as a fresh flow of blood and lymph will flood the area treated, removing dead cells and toxins from the area. Where sports massage differentiates from other styles of massage is that stretching techniques are involved during the treatment to lengthen short, tense muscles. When an injury occurs to a muscle, in the majority of cases the muscles in that area will contract and become short which can lead to a loss of motion and pain to the area. Using skills such as Soft Tissue Release, Myofascial Release and Muscle Energy Technqiues, the muscles will lengthen reducing pain and discomfort in the area.
Not only does sports massage reduce pain from injuries and help people get back to how they were or able to continue in their sport but it will also prevent the injury from occurring again. In a sports massage treatment not only will the massage help the injury but also help correct imbalances in the body which help stop that injury from returning. For example someone may be having pain in their foot and ankle because they are flat footed, the massage will reduce the pain but the problem won’t clear. By getting the individual to correct the issue by slowing realigning the ankle using strengthening exercises and regular massage treatment it is less likely the problem will return.
I would advise people not to receive a massage till at least 48 hours after an injury has taken place as massage treatment may have the reverse effect and increase the pain by increasing swelling in the area and will take longer for the injury to heal overall. Its always best to rest it, put some ice on it, compress it and elevate it to reduce bloodflow to the area, reduce swelling, pain and start the healing process as soon as possible.