Sports massage is based on Swedish massage, a technique that uses the application of pressure to manipulate soft tissue. Swedish massage was developed in the 1700s by Per Henrik Ling, a Swedish physiologist and fencing master, and involves the use of gliding strokes, kneading movements, circular pressure of the hand and fingers, vibratory movements, brisk tapping and bending and stretching.
Sports massage incorporates all of these Swedish massage movements, together with additional intensive techniques that are specifically designed to prevent and treat sports injuries.
Sports massage aims to improve the suppleness and flexibility of muscles and joints, improve blood circulation, speed up the healing of damaged or stressed muscles, tissues and joints, and prevent future muscle and tendon injuries.
A sports massage can be carried out prior to a sports event, when it will stimulate circulation, calm nervous tension and prepare the individual for optimal performance whilst at the same time reducing the risk of injury. It can be carried out after a sports event, when it will relieve soreness and assist with the removal of lactic acid and other waste products. It is often used during training, when the practitioner will focus on speeding up the healing of existing injuries and preventing the development of future injuries.
The client is usually asked to remove their outer layer of clothing so that the practitioner can work directly onto the skin. The massage is carried out whilst the client is lying on a massage couch or table and, depending on whether it is pre-event, post-event or a training massage, the therapy can take from thirty minutes to two hours.
Sports massage is good for releasing muscle tension and restoring balance to the musculoskeletal system. It reduces strain and discomfort caused by training or participating in sport, and it encourages the body to heal and repair any injuries sustained.
The main benefit of sports massage is that it improves muscle flexibility, blood circulation and reduces swelling, aids the prevention of sports injuries and assists the body with recovery and repair after sports injuries have been sustained.
Sports massage, although relaxing and soothing, can also be quite vigorous. If the client has muscle soreness the massage may, initially, cause some discomfort. Sports massage should be avoided if you have open wounds, muscle tears, sprained ligaments or burns; varicose veins, phlebitis, thrombosis, cancer, tumours, melanoma or haemophilia. This therapy is also unsuitable for anyone with infectious skin disease such as a fungal infection or herpes. People with diabetes should be aware that sports massage will have the same effects as exercise.
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