Massage therapy has become increasingly important in the field of athletic training. You can now regularly find massage therapists working at sports medicine centers, within collegiate and professional athletic training programs, and more. Massage for wellness and injury prevention prepares athletes for optimal performance by reducing muscle tension and swelling and increasing energy, among other benefits.
How does sports massage help?
Sports massage can alleviate minor tissue injuries and lesions due to overuse or overextension of muscles, which often occurs during strenuous physical activity and training. These injuries can result in poor athletic performance and pain, including chronic pain. Therapeutic massage improves flexibility, response time and mobility.
An increasing number of athletic trainers recognize that massage offers an edge to high-performance athletes. The benefits of sports massage include:
• Increases blood flow, nutrients and oxygen
• Improves muscle flexibility
• Speeds recovery from injuries
• Deactivates pain trigger points
What if I'm not an elite athlete?
Even if you don't consider yourself an athlete, sports massage can help anyone with a regular exercise regimen. According to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA):
"Sports massage can be used to improve athletic performance, speed recovery, and can be utilized by all individuals who participate in any athletic and/or exercise program to help improve conditioning and maintain peak performance."
In addition to the perks mentioned above, the AMTA reports that massage can also help reduce muscle tension and hypertonicity, increase range of motion, improve soft tissue function and more.
What kind of athletes benefit?
Athletes who participate in sports like tennis, aerobics, swimming, dancing, cycling, hiking, and running, as well as many other athletic activities, can benefit from regular massage.Sports massage is especially effective for the treatment of delayed-onset muscle soreness — pain that develops several hours after exercise.
Incorporating massage into a workout or conditioning program speeds up recovery times between sessions and can prevent the occurrence of conditions that may cause injury. It also simply improves general wellness and makes you feel good.
What modalities do therapists use in sports massage?
Sports massage may be a component of on-site therapy at an athletic event, part of a rehabilitation program, a tool for general maintenance, or a component of an injury prevention program. Currently, the most common modalities — or types — of massage used for sports conditioning include:
- Trigger point
- Deep tissue
Tui na massage is another therapeutic method used on athletes.
Studying massage therapy
The Acupuncture and Massage College offers certification in massage therapy with a specialization in shiatsu in Miami. Designed for students preparing for a career in the body therapy field, the Massage Therapy program includes classes in the effective practice of shiatsu, Swedish and medical massage.
For information about AMC’s Oriental Medicine and Massage Therapy programs you can email our admissions department.