Massage therapy can help improve athletic performance in a number of ways.
Regular sports massage can:
– reduce the chance of injury, through proper stretching and event preparation, and through deep tissue massage;
– improve range of motion and muscle flexibility, resulting in improved power and performance;
– shorten recovery time between workouts;
– maximize the supply of nutrients and oxygen through increased blood flow;
– enhance elimination of metabolic by-products of exercise.
The overall objective of a maintenance program is to help the athlete reach optimal performance through injury-free training.
Muscles can easily become overworked by overtraining. When a muscle becomes tight, it becomes inefficient. It cannot elongate and protect the joints fast enough to avoid damage. Massage helps to improve muscle elasticity by stretching and lengthening shortened muscles, which can help you avoid injury.
Intense training can also lead to a buildup of waste products within the muscles. Regular massage not only increases circulation to bring oxygen and deliver nutrients to the muscles, it also helps to speed up the removal of these metabolic wastes that can make you sore a day or two after heavy training. By removing these waste products from the body faster, it allows you to recover faster, so you can resume training sooner.
Massage is cumulative. This means that each massage session builds onto the next and you reap greater benefits when you receive regular treatments. It cannot be stressed enough how important regular treatments are to the athlete. There comes a time when an athlete must come to terms with an injury and decide whether or not to continue training.
The best defense against injury is prevention. Preventive therapy can help increase the potential of an athlete. Unfortunately, massage therapy is not a quick fix. If you are already injured, it may take several sessions to get back to your level of training before the injury. This is why prevention is key. Receiving regular massage treatments can actually help prevent injury. Oftentimes during a session, areas of tension and soreness are felt that was not noticed before. These tender areas can be signs of the beginning stages of a future injury. Getting these areas “worked out” can help you to continue to train hard so you can achieve your athletic goals in your sport.
Making massage therapy a part of your training regimen can only benefit you as an athlete. Strength and endurance can be more easily attained with a relaxed and flexible body. Combining massage with regular training allows your muscles to work more efficiently, increases circulation to speed healing allowing you to recover faster so you can train harder, reduces muscle spasms and injury, and what every athlete wants, improved athletic performance.
If you want to maximize your potential as an athlete, or if your training is limited due to muscle spasms or pain, it may be time to give massage therapy a try.