Sports massage therapy for the modern athleteOctober 27, 2017 | by Richard Hawes
Sports Massage dates back to Roman times where gladiators - the sporting heroes of the day - were treated with manual therapies like massage after battle. Today, many athletes and teams alike use massage as part of their preparation, performance and recovery.
Traditionally, massage has been used in three ways to help the athlete: pre-event, intra-event and post-event. As sports massage therapy has evolved, it has also become a tool for injury rehabilitation and long-term injury prevention.
- Pre-event treatment
Specific manual and massage techniques can be used pre-event to help enhance athletic performance. Generally this is done within an hour or two prior to the event and just before the athlete does their dynamic warm up. Put simply, techniques are used to help stimulate the neuromuscular system in preparation for performance.
- Intra event treatment
If possible, and if required, massage can be used during the event in order to assist the athlete. An example of this would be the application of a ‘calf flush’ at half time during a soccer game.
- Post event treatment
Science has shown that post-event cool down protocols such as light exercise, static stretching, ice baths and nutrition all have a part to play in immediate post event recovery. Massage is another tool that can be used to help accelerate homeostatic balance. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is a common post-event complaint of athletes (increased muscle soreness in the 24 – 48 hours post event). Sports Massage therapy immediately following an event helps to combat DOMS and keep athletes on their regular training schedule.
- Injury rehabilitation
Ask any sportsman or woman ‘What’s the worst part of being a competitive athlete?’. If they answer ‘losing’, it’s because they’ve never been injured. Whilst injury prevention is often a goal of massage therapy, treating the injured athlete has become a much more accepted part of our realm. At Fortius, Therapy staff work in an integrated team environment of Sports Med Doctors, Physiotherapists Strength and Conditioning practitioners and others in order to give clients the best possible rehabilitation outcome.
- Year-round therapy plan
Sporting organizations, coaches and athletes themselves are now designing periodization plans that scientifically organize the season ahead. Everything is taken into account in an attempt to maximize peak performance at exactly the right time.
Why not have a Sports Massage Therapist look at your plan for the upcoming season and perhaps suggest how he/she can help you achieve your goals? Too many athletes simply look for massage therapy in a hap hazard way. A more researched, planned and holistic approach will likely result in improved performance. ( A personal tip…don’t be frightened to seek out a therapist who knows your sport. They will have an intimate understanding of what you are going through and what you are trying to achieve.)
We’ve come a long way from our gladiatorial roots! Over the past 20 years, the world of Sports Medicine and Sports Therapy has gone from being the pipe dream of a few forward thinking practitioners, to an everyday part of the sporting landscape.
At Fortius, we have a team of Registered Massage Therapists (RMTs) who have a great deal of experience in treating athletes from across the sporting spectrum.
Visit our Massage Therapy page to learn more or call 604.292.2501 to book an appointment today.