Sports massage should play an important part in the life of any sportsman or woman
whether they are injured or not. Massage has a number of benefits both physical,
physiological and psychological.
· Maintain the body generally in better condition.
· Prevent injuries and loss of mobility.
· Cure and restore mobility to injured muscle tissue.
· Boost performance.
· Extend the overall life of your sporting career.
Physical effects are:
· Pumping - The stroking movements in massage suck fluid through blood vessels and
lymph vessels. By increasing the pressure in front of the stroke, a vacuum is created
behind. This is especially important in tight or damaged muscle tissue as a tight
muscle will squeeze blood out like a sponge, depriving the tissues of vital nutrients
and energy to repair.
· 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.
· Stretching - Massage can stretch tissues that could not be stretched in the usual
methods. Bundles of muscle fibres 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 effect muscle, tendons and ligaments. This can lead to inflexible tissues
that are prone to injury and pain.
· Improve tissue elasticity - Hard training can make tissues hard and inelastic.
This is one reason why hard training may not result in improvements. Massage helps
reverse this by stretching the tissues.
· Opens micro-circulation - Massage does increase blood flow to tissues, but so does
exercise. What massage also does is open or dilate the blood vessels and by stretching
them this enables nutrients to pass through more easily.
Physiological effects are:
· Pain reduction - Tension and waste products in muscles can often cause pain. Massage
helps reduce this in many ways including releasing the bodies endorphins.
· Relaxation - Muscles relax through heat generated, circulation and stretching.
Mechanoreceptors which sense touch, pressure, tissue length and warmth are stimulated
causing a reflex relaxation.
Psychological effects are:
· Anxiety reduction - through the effects mentioned above relaxation is induced and
so reduces anxiety levels.
· Invigorating - if massage is done with brisk movements such as what would be done
before an event then this can produces an invigorating feeling.