Sports massages are designed to release muscle tension and restore balance to the muscular-skeletal system – and usually are quite uncomfortable. However, the benefits can be immense, and include physical, physiological and psychological improvements. Some of these benefits include:
- Enhanced tissue permeability: Massage causes the tissue membrane pores to widen, allowing fluids and nutrients to pass through more readily. This enables waste products such as lactic acid to be removed rapidly and creates an environment whereby oxygen is quickly delivered to the target muscles, allowing a faster recovery.
- Increased flexibility: Massage stretches muscle tissue in a multidirectional manner, it can also have a similar effect on the muscular sheath and surrounding fascia, allowing a beneficial release of stored tension and pressure.
- Scar tissue realignment: Each and every time a muscle receives trauma or injury, scar tissue is formed which can affect the muscle itself as well as the tendons and ligaments. If not treated correctly at the time of injury, this scar tissue can form haphazardly, resulting in the potential for long term inflexibility issues. Massage assists in realigning the scar tissue formation and reduces the likelihood of subsequent injury and/or pain.
- Inhibition of pain: A combination of tension and waste products within a muscle can often result in the sensation of pain. Massage lessons this painful feeling by its ability to reduce tension and remove waste products. It also encourages the release of endorphins.
- Stimulates relaxation response: Massage creates an environment whereby heat generation, enhanced circulation and increased flexibility are all promoted. All of these factors play a role in stimulating mechanoreceptors in the body and creating relaxation.
- Reduced anxiety levels: Through stimulating a relaxation response, massage has the additional benefit of lowering anxiety levels, creating a mood enlightening experience.
- Invigorating bodily response: If the sports massage is completed utilising brisk movements prior to a sporting event then it can create an invigorating bodily response that will benefit performance.
However before considering the potential benefits sport massage has to offer, it is important to recognise that massage itself is not only for injured individuals but can also offer numerous benefits to uninjured individuals who are looking to enhance their sporting performance, together with students who are at the age to sit exams. Where a deep tissue massage can release tension and loosen muscles such as the shoulders and the back that have become tense brought on by hours of revision where the individual is in a cramped positon over a computer, writing notes or sitting the exams.