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Getting injured is never fun, but it can be even more debilitating when it happens during sports. Whether a person plays for fun or for a living, being placed on the sidelines can be frustrating. The one thing that will be forefront in their mind is getting better—fast. To aid with the healing process, it may be a good idea to look into massage therapy.

What Is Massage Therapy?

On the most basic level, massage therapy is the manipulation of soft tissue to aid in healing. These include the muscles and fascia, which is a sheet of connective tissue that stabilizes, attaches, separates and encloses muscles. Massage therapy works by reducing any stiffness that might exist in these soft tissues and promotes blood flow. Since blood carries necessary nutrients that help muscles grow and heal, the more blood that flows into the area, the more nutrients come with it.

How Does Sports Massage Therapy Work?

There are different types of massage that can be used after a sport’s injury. Deep tissue massage is when a therapist applies slow but firm pressure to the area to reach the deep layers of the muscles. This technique works best if you have hard, tight muscles that need to be loosened.

Another massage that might be used is called myofascial release. This is often confused with deep tissue massage because the techniques are similar. However, the goal with this process is to soften the fascia, which can become hard and rigid with overuse. A therapist usually won’t use massage oils if they are performing this type of massage therapy, as they will need to be able to accurately feel the fascia fibers so that they can soften them.

The other type of massage that can be used after a sports injury is a Swedish massage. This process is much less intense than the deep tissue or myofascial release techniques. A Swedish massage can relieve tension and promote relaxation. It can also help relieve sore, stiff muscles by warming them up with movement and promoting blood flow.

Different Sport Massage Techniques

In addition to the various types of massages that exist, there are also different techniques that a therapist can employ. These will depend on the nature of the injury and the needs of the athlete. These techniques are as follows:


For this technique, the therapist will use the palm of their hands and use light strokes that are directed towards the heart. This enhances blood flow and warms the muscles to promote healing and relaxation.


A therapist may conduct this technique with quick movements of their hands or hook an athlete up to a machine that sends electrical pulses into the muscles. The vibration aids in the relaxation and soothing of tight or sore muscles.


This technique uses kneading movements. It can be done with light or firm strokes, and the goal is to increase blood flow and help with muscle recovery. Petrissage can assist in keeping muscles from getting overly tight and reduce the buildup of lactic acid.


Therapists use friction to get deep into the muscle tissue. This technique can reduce stiffness and blood flow, which will promote healing after an injury. Friction is often used in conjunction with effleurage, which first warms up the muscles and prepares them for deeper penetration.

Depending on the nature of the injury, a therapist might also incorporate stretching with these techniques to promote healing and flexibility. These techniques might be combined with others or used on their own. It all depends on the nature of the injury and how much pain and swelling the athlete is experiencing.

Which Massage Is Best?

When it comes to the type of massage that a therapist uses on a patient, it will depend on the nature of the injury. For example, if a patient injured their rotator cuff and it is still swollen and tender, then a Swedish massage will be employed to encourage blood flow to the area and loosen tight muscles. In general, deep tissue massages and myofascial release are only used once the pain and swelling have subsided.

When Should Massage Therapy be Used?

While massage therapy is great to help athletes heal from an injury, it can also be used as a preventative measure. Getting a massage before, during and after a sporting event will ensure that an athlete’s muscles are properly warmed up and cooled down and have the right amount of blood flowing to them. It’s also a good way to relieve tension and increase a body’s mobility and flexibility.

With any massage, whether administered before, during or after an event, it’s important that you have a trainer who knows what they are doing. They need to know what type of massage to employ and how much pressure to apply. If done incorrectly, this could increase the chance for injury or exacerbate an already injured area. It could also make the athlete too relaxed and unable to perform their best.

Who Should Get Sports Massage Therapy?

Any athlete, regardless of their sport, can benefit from a massage. When it comes to injury recovery, this is one technique that will be used with other exercises, including stretching and strength training, that can help promote and encourage faster healing. Again, the goal of sport massage therapy is to relieve tight muscles and promote blood flow. This combined with other treatments will keep an athlete moving and get them back to playing as quickly as possible.

Sports massage therapy is incredible when it comes to preventing injuries and helping a person heal after an injury. However, it’s not a technique that works overnight. To get the full benefits, an athlete should consider incorporating this into their regular training and recovery program. A professional will be able to create and tailor a program that will increase the athlete’s performance, help them recover faster and help them heal as quickly as possible if they experience an injury.

Author: Admin


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