The Winter Olympics just finished last month in Vancouver, and one thing prevalent at the games – besides terrific performances by the world’s best athletes – was massage therapists, and a lot of them. And this prevalence of sports trainers with massage therapy training, as well as actual, professional massage therapists was not unique to just this year’s Games. Indeed, a study in The British Journal of Sports Medicine showed that 45 percent of the treatment athletes receive at major, international and national, sporting events comes in the form of sports massage therapy.
The reason for this abundance of sports massage therapy is clear. In the journal of Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise, an article published in 2008 demonstrated sports massage therapy’s extensive benefit for athletes, with sports massage therapy being credited in reducing levels of swelling while increasing levels of muscle strength after periods of strenuous exercise. In the same study, sports massage therapy also was shown to decrease the amount of energy the body must expend to heal damaged muscle groups.
What does all this mean?
It means that the world’s best professional athletes will continue to use massage therapy at competitions of the highest level, which means that athletes at all levels may want to consider sports massage therapy to aid themselves and their teams in training and competitions.
What, specifically, can sports massage therapy do for athletes?
- It can improve training, with sports massage therapy easing muscle pain and potential injury during strenuous days. Sports massage can also keep muscles flexible and healthy during lighter days or periods of training.
- It can improve performance. Sports massage before competitions can energize muscles and aid in stretching and warm-up exercises. It can also help limit the amount of pain and potential injury after grueling events.
- It can improve health. Massage therapy has been proven to improve the body’s circulation, essential for the removal of metabolic waste, but also important in maintaining a healthy immune system.
Sports massage therapy has benefits for athletes of all sports. Be it basketball, hockey, lacrosse, swimming, running, bicycling, football, golf, basketball, soccer, tennis or any of the many other athletic pursuits out there, sports massage can be a great way to ensure the best possible health and condition of athletes, during training and at competitions. There’s a reason why almost half of all professional massage therapists practice sports massage therapy, and why nearly half of all treatment given to athletes at major, international competitions comes in the form of sports massage therapy. Quite simply: It works.