Sports Massage as a tool to prevent injury and maintain a healthy body and mind

Sport Relief is behind us, but that was just the start of this year’s summer sporting calendar. There’s the London Marathon later this month, and of course the Common Wealth Games XX in Glasgow in July. These highly publicised sporting events will hopefully get you itching to participate. Start something new, or motivate you to work a bit harder in your chosen sport. Either way, it’s a great way to keep fit and what everyone wants in the workplace is a fit, stress-free workforce, invigorated and ready to face the challenges presented to them.

Many companies have taken the first steps to encourage a healthy workforce by offering subsidised gym memberships and forming sports teams and leagues for employees to join but in order to maintain a level of fitness, it’s vital that you look after your body. Elite athletes and health professionals are united when it comes to the benefits of sports massage as an aide to preventing injury and also as a tool to enhance post exercise recovery and tissue healing. Even participating in sport at a recreational level, you are using the same muscles as elite athletes and undergo the same stresses.

Sports massage is not an overnight cure but even a single treatment can have short-term benefits. Maintaining the body in good condition, correcting longer term problems and enhancing sporting performance may need a longer treatment plan to benefit from the cumulative effects of sports massage. By making it part of your training regime, the rewards include physical and psychological improvements. With a combination of traditional massage techniques such as gliding and kneading movements and more remedial, deep tissue techniques, sports massage can help boost performance and extend the overall life of your sports participation and enjoyment. It helps remove damaged cells, scar tissue and adhesions and encourage more complete healing to treat and prevent sports injuries. Several studies have demonstrated increased flexibility, a reduction in post-exercise muscle soreness, improved recovery and decreased fatigue.

Physical effects of massage
• Stretching muscle fibres improves tissue elasticity that results in increased flexibility and a decrease in muscle tension
• Increased blood flow and tissue permeability encourages removal of waste products (lactic acid) and uptake of oxygen and nutrients leading to quicker recovery
• Breaks down scar tissue from previous injuries or trauma to the muscles, tendons and ligaments increasing mobility and reducing pain
• Dampens down pain by reducing tension in the soft tissue and helping to eliminate waste products. Endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers may also be released during massage.
• Massage has also been shown to reduce heart rate, blood pressure and cortisol levels.

Psychological effects of massage
• Depending on the type of massage, it can act to either relax or stimulate. For pre event massage it’s important to receive an invigorating treatment that prepares you for action. Post event or injury prevention massage tends to be more relaxing in order to gain the full physical benefits of the massage.
• Many people who receive sports massage also report reduced anxiety levels, improved mood and a general feeling of well-being

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