Sports massage is a form of bodywork geared toward participants in athletics. It is used to help prevent injuries, to prepare the body for athletic activity and maintain it in optimal condition, and to help athletes recover from workouts and injuries.
Sports massage has three basic forms: pre-event massage, post-event massage, and maintenance massage.
Sports massage is generally carried out at least once a week as a regular part of athletic training programs, although professional athletes who have their own therapists may have maintenance massage daily. Maintenance massage increases the flow of blood and nutrients to the muscles. It also keeps the tissues loose so that different layers of muscle slide easily over each other. Maintenance sports massage also helps reduce the development of scar tissue while increasing flexibility and range of motion.
The goal of all sports massage is to maximize athletic performance. Athletes in different sports will concentrate the massage on different parts of the body.
Conditions that generally respond well to sports massage include:
- muscle pain and stiffness
- muscle strain
- edema (swelling)
- muscle soreness
- muscle sprains
- muscle tension
- sore spots
- repetitive strain injuries