Immediately prior to sporting events, athletes undergo massage therapy in order to have their muscles and joints prepared for the rigorous and challenging undertakings that are about to transpire. It also oftentimes serves to help in the dissipation of the anxiety or nervousness that athletes tend to experience beforehand.
There are various sports massage therapy techniques that are exclusively designed and suited for athletes, and there are a couple of things that needs to be considered by massage therapists for athletes each and every time:
The time that the massage therapy is done. Is the massage therapy performed before, during or after the sporting event? Massage therapy required by athletes at different times vary.
The kinds of competition athletes are involved in. Different types of athletes have different massage needs, depending on which body parts they rely on or heavily use.
In this article, we will learn some of the most important matters about sports massage therapy that is done prior to the sporting event. Similarly, we will tackle certain things that make it different from massage therapy that is conducted during and after competitions, such as the reasons why it’s carried out and the techniques applied.
Regarded as a Preparatory Activity
Athletes have to train and prepare for so many years in order for their minds and bodies to become the sporting machines that they are. The transformation from being a dreamer to a seasoned athlete doesn’t happen overnight — it usually takes years and years of hard work, discipline and determination.
Just before sporting events take place, there are also all sorts of conditioning or preparations that athletes have to go through, both mentally and physically.
Undergoing sports massage therapy before competitions enables athletes to prepare for the arduous tasks ahead both mentally and physically with the help of a massage therapists with the right training to provide pre-event massage to athletes. Here are the reasons why it helps in the mental and physical preparations of athletes:
Sports massage therapists help in increasing blood flow to the muscles, in particular the ones that are relied upon by athletes during competitions, thus bringing warmth to them and at the same time making them flexible. The range of motion of the joints as well as their lubrication is also improved in the process.
Certain athletes tend to talk a lot prior to sporting events, and sports massage therapists can encourage them to vent their thoughts and feelings to assist in the dissipation of their anxiety or nervousness. However, it’s important for any sports massage therapist to discourage an athlete from talking in a negative fashion.
Evidently, sports massage therapists can have a considerable impact on the performance of athletes, and it’s therefore important for them to provide the right form of mental and physical preparation necessitated. This is especially true since most of the time they’re the last people that athletes have contact with before competing.
Pre-Event Massage Considerations
As earlier mentioned, different athletes have different sports massage therapy needs based on certain factors, and one of the most important of which is the kind of sporting event that they are engaged in. The pre-event massage needs of, say, a runner is entirely different to those of a boxer’s.
Before sports massage therapists administer massage just before athletes compete, there are some important matters that need to be taken into account:
Some sporting events call for instantaneous reactions from athletes, such as in the case of swimmers and runners. It can be very disadvantageous for such kinds of athletes to receive massage that relax the muscles just before they compete as it can considerably slow down their reaction times.
Then there are also sporting events that are long in duration and thus athletes need to be in a loose or relaxed state at the beginning, such as in the case of boxing. It’s exactly for this reason why boxers are continually receiving massages from sports massage therapists in between rounds.
It’s also very important for sports massage therapists to take into consideration the demands as well as the rules of sporting events that athletes are involved in. For instance, the use of massage oils or other lubricants that leave the skin greasy may not be allowed in some wrestling competitions.
Regardless of the sporting event, pre-event massage is administered to help make athletes feel great and ready to compete. It is provided to help increase the supply of blood to the muscles and enhance the mobility of the joints.
Techniques Used in Pre-Event Massage
Sports massage therapy involves massage techniques that are aimed at helping athletes ready their minds and bodies for events that are about to take place. Usually, the massage is provided right before the competition itself, but there are some sports massage therapists that carry out massage up to 48 hours prior to the sporting event.
As a general rule of thumb, the closer the completion gets, the less invasive the massage provided should be. This is done in order to considerably lessen the chance of a sports massage therapist pulling or injuring a muscle just before an athlete competes. So in other words, deep tissue massages are commonly avoided.
Here are some of the massage techniques that are commonly employed by sports massage therapists:
Compression. This is aimed at increasing blood flow to the muscles, thus preparing them for the challenges ahead. Again, deep tissue massages are discouraged to prevent injuring the muscles.
Friction. Performing this massage technique helps in warming up superficial tissues. Since it usually involves the use of oils or lubricants, a sports massage therapist should bear in mind competition demands and rules.
Tapotement. A common technique employed by massage therapists, sports or otherwise, tapotement involves speedy and repeated striking of various body parts for muscular stimulation.
Stretching. Gentle stretching enables the muscles to become more flexible, thus lowering the risk of them getting injured. This technique also prepares the muscles for warming up that is about to take place.
Speaking of warming up, pre-event massage has to be carried out before an athlete performs warming up routines. The goal of warming up is to increase the body temperature, heart rate and breathing rate, and giving athletes massage after warming up will only defeat the purpose.