The 5 Benefits of Massage for Athletes

After heavy workouts or competitions, athletes turn to private massages to relax the muscles, which helps to a quicker recovery. Massages are also a must for injury prevention and they speed up rehabilitation.

The Many Benefits of Massage

Massage therapy will often provide full, or at least partial, pain relief. By relaxing and recovering the muscles, the athlete's chances for an injury during their workout or performance are greatly reduced. The biggest impact of sports massage therapy for an athlete is increased blood circulation through the body, which in turn helps to release toxins and improves nutrition absorption. 

A massage therapist will start moving the fluids in the body with long stroking movements. This type of stroke will create pressure in front of the hand, while simultaneously creating suction behind the hand. This movement is used to repair damaged muscles and to bring oxygen and a fresh supply of blood to them. Along with bringing oxygen and blood for repairs, the pressure removes toxins that have accumulated in the tissue. 

This is only possible because deep tissue massage opens up the pores in the fibrous tissues, and it makes them more accessible to receive nutrients and oxygen while flushing out the toxins.

Long, strong stokes will stretch the muscles in every direction and release all the built-up tension. The following benefits of massage can be obtained with basic methods, while others require advanced knowledge and techniques.

1. Improved Blood Circulation

Improved blood circulation will bring more oxygen to the body, and in turn, the athlete will be able to move faster and smoother (1).

Vigorous training and professional athletic performance creates microscopic wear and tear on the muscle tissue, and if left unattended, it needs to heal much longer. But with increased blood flow, nutrients and oxygen will repair the tissue faster and better. This helps with increased performance, which is the goal of every athlete. Not only that, their training will be far more efficient.

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2. Increased Flexibility

The athlete needs to be flexible during training to increase their performance output. Deep massage before and after training sessions or competitions increases that flexibility (2). When an athlete is limber with muscles and tissues as relaxed as possible, the increased flexibility can make the person faster and stronger. Massage stretches the fibers of the muscles and tissues, which leads to flexible tendons and muscles that reduce the risk of injury. 

Stretching for flexibility

3. Better Sleep

Injuries, as well as muscle fatigue, can be improved with a restorative night's rest. Massage therapy can promote relaxation and lead to a better night's sleep. An athlete's sleep patterns can benefit from a deep massage, which will improve the amount and quality of his or her sleep (3). A stressed athlete won't be able to relax enough to fall asleep. Massage reduces tension and allows the athlete to fall asleep faster and sleep longer. 

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4. Decreased Tension

Athletes are very competitive people, and that in turn, makes relaxing difficult for them. They always feel the need to improve their athletic performance – and if not that, then something in other areas of their life. This creates a lot of stress – both emotional and physical. So a relaxing and health-promoting massage is definitely something that every athlete should often treat himself or herself with. It is well proven that massage creates measurable muscle (4) and body relaxation.

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5. Reduced Pain

Overtraining, injuries, and tension can all result in sore muscles and pain. Massage therapy is known to reduce tension and increase blood flow to the injured area to relieve pain (5). Massage relieves pain by helping to improve circulation and blood flow, which repairs injuries and soreness. Pain will greatly affect the ability of the athlete to train effectively. 

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A deep tissue massage once a week will provide all those benefits to the athlete from increased blood and reduced pain to more restorative sleep and decreased tension. Athletes are often drained and fatigued after a workout. If this is a problem for you, a massage will help you perform better

Take a look at this video to see what a sports massage usually looks like.

Jeanette Lynn
 

Jeanette has been a professional massage therapist since 1998. She devotes her life to helping those who suffer from musculoskeletal pain. She's also a Pilates instructor and has a bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN).

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