How Massage Can Help Athletes Year-Round

How Massage Can Help Athletes Year-Round

You’re a true athlete. You’re used to working hard, exhausting your body, and developing your
mental stamina— as well as your physical stamina— year round.
The idea of using massage to improve your game might sound silly. Who needs a spa day to
improve your game on the football field? But the truth is, more and more professional sports
teams are employing full-time massage therapists to work with their athletes. Why? It really
does make you a better athlete.

So how exactly can a few sessions or regular appointments on a massage table work to
improve your game, or make you faster or stronger? There’s a lot that goes into it. Here are a
few reasons why you should consider adding a regular massage into your training routine.

Improve Recovery After a Workout
Especially if you’re in the off-season and haven’t worked a particular muscle group in a while—
even just a few days— you know that delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) can leave you
feeling stiff, fatigued, and achy. DOMS affects your workouts over the following days; your
muscles feel weaker and you can’t work quite as hard as you’d like.

So how can you avoid the downsides of DOMS? Massage has been shown to reduce the pain
and discomfort of DOMS by 30%. A recent study in the Journal of Sports Sciences showed that
male bodybuilders recovered more quickly after a hard workout when they followed up with a
sports massage.

Think of it as an even more targeted session than the one you get with your foam roller for
myofascial release. As you roll out your muscles, you actually increase your short-term flexibility
for around 10 minutes. This means you’re able to crush your workout even more after a foam
rolling session.

However, a foam roller can only do so much. You’re only targeting large muscle groups, and
your roller can’t get very specific. This is where a massage therapist comes in.
A massage therapist can do so much more to relieve your DOMS, especially when the massage
is performed by a pro who knows the specificity of myofascial release. DOMS can leave you
feeling inflexible and achy. a targeted sports massage when you’re experiencing the stiffness of
DOMS will loosen things up so you don’t have to hold back quite so much during your workout.

Prevent Injury
Another reason to hop up on the massage table before your next practice, during off-season
training, or before a big game? Massage can also help prevent injury, in multiple ways:

● Increased blood flow, nutrients, and oxygen traveling through muscles and joints,
warming them up and reducing the risk of tears
● Improved muscle flexibility, which also lowers the risk of a tear or strain
● Deactivation of pain trigger points: Spots of pain or discomfort can cause even the most
disciplined of athletes to favor one side or alter their technique, putting strain on other
parts of their body, which can lead to injury

Also, massage therapy can decrease the time it takes for you to recover from an injury. If you’re
a determined athlete who was taught to “play through the pain,” it can be tempting to return to
your sport before you’ve completely healed, putting you at risk for even worse injury.
Getting a massage while recovering from an injury increases the flow of blood, oxygen, and
nutrients to your injury. With proper massage therapy, your injury can actually heal faster than
without. If you heal faster, you’re much less likely to re-injure yourself by trying to train or
compete before your body is ready to take on the stress of activity.

Who Should Use Massage Therapy
In short? Everyone! From dancers to baseball players, cyclists, runners, swimmers, and all other
athletes, everyone can use massage therapy to enhance training, even in the off-season. No
matter the sport, your body is the tool you use to compete and to train, and sometimes it needs
a little extra TLC from a trained professional to prepare for a big race, or to recover afterward.

“But I’m not a professional athlete! Should I use massage therapy to improve my sport?” you
ask. The answer is an emphatic yes! If you have a passion for tennis and play frequently, or if
you’re training for a marathon or triathlon, you know the amount of time you use your body
during each training session. There’s so much wear and tear experienced during a long run or
swim.

Massage therapy is one of the best ways you can prepare for a race or game, recover
afterward, relieve stress, and improve your technique, regardless of whether or not you get paid
to compete. If you’re passionate about your sport, care about your body, and want to improve
your health, consider massage therapy. It’s a great way to take care of yourself, ensuring you
can participate and compete in your sport for years to come.