Why Sports Massage is a Necessity and who uses it?
“Ouch” you say as you hit your elbow on the counter. Then instinctively your other hand comes over and massages the banged area.
Many people think of massage as just a way to relax and spoil themselves. When in fact, massage therapy is just as important as eating healthy and it comes in many different forms depending on your needs. Yes, you can go and relax in a spa. However, massage therapy is now widely used in places like chiropractic offices, hospitals, health clubs and sporting events. Today, more and more sports teams are staffing massage therapists for their players.
As an athlete, massage is a very important part in reaching your peak performance and preventing injuries. During play many things happen within the muscular system. Toxins build up and, if not broken up and flushed out, can lead to ischemic areas (lack of blood flow). That’s when we feel “knots” in the body. We also have a connective tissue called “fascia” that pretty much wraps around everything head to toes. The best way to describe “fascia” is when you cut into a chicken breast you can see various layers to it. Those layers are the fascial layers. In our system, when those layers tighten up, it creates our muscles to stick to each other and then pulls on the rest of the body. All this can create postural distortion and poor biomechanics which then can lead to tears, pulls and strains.
How often should you get a Massage?
Getting a massage regularly can help prevent injuries from happening and reduces recovery time.
Breaks up toxins Reduces resting heart rate Melts fascia Reduces blood pressure Reduces muscle tension Promotes circulation Aids healing Increases flexibility
For professional athletes you should get 1 full body deep tissue massage a week. For the weekend athlete, 1 full body a month. I always recommend at least a one and half hour massage to really work everything out. An hour really only gives time to flush the whole body (swedish massage) which is also good if that’s all you need or want. Deep tissue can be a little painful so don’t be shy to tell your therapist to lighten up. They won’t take it the wrong way....promise! Then be sure to drink lots of water to get out all those toxins that were just broken up.Most sporting events offer massage therapy either before or after the event. I recommend stopping by one for about 15 min. and have your muscles loosened up after their workout. Amazing the difference in pain or no pain after the event if you keep up with your massage. I once worked on someone for 3 hours 2 days before the Kona Ironman. He came in a faster time than he thought he would and had no pain in his body the next day.
What are some different Massage Modalities that are good for Athletes?
There are all kinds of modalities out there but some are better for athletes than others, here’s an example of some good ones:
Pre and Post sports massage Deep Tissue Myofascial Release Thai (Yoga) Massage Shiatsu
Now, if you have an injury or feel like you are not getting your full range of motion, a great technique that I use and has quick resolve is Active Release Techniques (ART). It only takes about 15-30 minutes a session (depending on the practitioner) and costs any where from $45-$100/ session (depending where you live).
How do I find a Qualified Massage Therapist?
Always make sure to go to a certified therapist. A couple great sites to find one in your area is The American Sports Therapy Association or The Health Professionals Directory. And remember that finding a massage therapist is like finding a doctor. You want to find one that has the qualifications you are looking for, you feel comfortable with and mostly importantly that you like their touch. It may take you a couple tries with different therapists or you may find one your first try. Of course, word of mouth is usually the best.
Now go relax and be well!
Jessica Ippoliti, LMT, ART, CNMT- started her career as a sports massage therapist in 2001. She attended Space Coast Health Institute in Melbourne, FL; followed by a sports internship with the Florida Marlins during spring training. Upon completion Jessica went on to enhance her skills even more by continuing her education; receiving certifications in Active Release Techniques, Neuromuscular Therapy, weight training and working towards becoming Chek exercise coach. She also continually takes other seminars to learn about injury prevention/treatment and new techniques to integrate into her practice, making her work exclusive to individual needs. Jessica travels all over working with various professional athletes, as well as weekend warriors, including her tradition of working baseball's spring training in Florida and Arizona each year. She has volunteered her time to such events as the Ironman Competition, Mercedes-Benz Classic Tennis Tournament for Jim Courrier Kids Club, Audi's Best Buddies Challenge cyclist event, Zero Breast Cancer's Dipsea Lite Hike and Run and the Sonoma State Golf Fundraiser Tournament.