Massage therapy has evolved from a perceived luxury to a useful and even crucial part of the treatment of disease, from the hospital to the training room of athletes. Until the last ten years, there was no conclusive evidence that massage actually had a positive effect on athletes. However, thanks to new studies and support from reputable sources, the benefits of massage are being taken seriously. And its benefits are not just for professionals. They extend to anyone who participates in a regular exercise program.

According to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), massage can improve performance, reduce pain, prevent injury, encourage concentration, and shorten recovery time. It basically involves two types of responses: a mechanical response resulting from pressure and movement and a reflex response where the nerves respond to the stimulation of a massage.

Physiological effect:

You may not realize it, but massage has an effect on the cardiovascular system. It dilates blood vessels, which helps them work more efficiently to promote circulation. The manual aid that favors the return of venous blood to the heart improves blood flow, which brings fresh oxygen and nutrients to the tissues and energizes the elimination of waste and toxins. Thanks to the state of relaxation in which you find yourself during and after the massage, your heart rate lowers.

The benefits of massage on the muscular system are more known and expected. One of them is directly related to cardiovascular benefits. Increased and improved blood circulation helps relieve muscle tension, reduce soreness and allow for faster recovery.

Then, relaxed muscles may experience “an increase in range of motion and flexibility,” as explained in a study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness. Both of these benefits can lead to better athletic performance. In short, massage can help relieve pain, strengthen muscles and promote recovery. Not only is the massage pleasant for the muscle tissues, but it is also beneficial for them.

Psychological effects:

The sports massage study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness points out that athleticism, especially the athleticism required in competitive sports, is not based solely on physical strength.

Tactical maneuvers in cycling or the ability to concentrate on a task (for example, in gymnastics or golf) can also affect performance. Therefore, the psychological effect provided to an athlete by an experience such as massage may be non-physiologically significant. These benefits include reducing stress, tension and anxiety while supporting relaxation by activating the parasympathetic nervous system.

So you get an increase in dopamine and serotonin levels and a reduction in cortisol levels, which are directly related to stress. This state of relaxation and reduced tension promotes concentration, a good thing to have before embarking on a sport, a group exercise class or a competition.

Types of massage for athletes.

As a sportsman or athlete, you will benefit more from a deep massage or sports massage than from a gentle, smelly massage at a spa. However, these types of massage are not always comfortable.

A sports massage often involves a quick massage, stretching, and other approaches, depending on the sport you play. It can be adapted to be used as a pre-workout stretch and opportunity to warm up muscles or used as a post-workout massage designed to reduce soreness and increase flexibility.

Deep tissue massage is commonly suggested by massage therapists because it addresses particular issues you may have, by applying greater pressure to layers of muscle and other deep tissues. Do not expect to be comfortable throughout this massage. It is designed to bring out knots and tension that muscles may be holding. But be ready. Due to the focus on soft tissue pain, either of these types of massage can cause you pain.

* criptom strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information given can not replace the opinion of a health professional.