Sports massages must be adapted to specific circumstances of the moment, type of sport, and athlete’s structure. In general terms, sports massages offer multiple benefits, both at local and general systemic levels. Among its effects, we can highlight the improvement of blood and lymphatic circulations. A properly performed massage helps to eliminate toxins resulting from the increase of metabolism during the performance of any exercise. It facilitates the oxygen entry and the nutrients absorption within our musculoskeletal system. It also has an important role in reducing post-exercise recovery time and preventing muscle fatigue injuries. It has a strong analgesic and relaxing effect. Sports massage is certainly crucial to improve performance in sports.
Keep in mind that in the treatment of any lesion, a muscle used to make sport regularly gets better and faster than one that leads a sedentary regime.
- Maintenance Sport Massage
A regular application of this massage removes the overtraining syndrome, responsible for the fatigue of the musculoskeletal system. It is also an injury preventer, avoiding muscle spasms and fatigue, contractures, and other injuries that are common in the sports practice.
This type of massage aims to ensure that the training sessions are as productive as possible. The action of this massage promotes blood flow and consequently, the withdrawal of products resulting from metabolism. It also helps to regulate sleep, and it reduces stress and anxiety. It is ideal to calm down and relax athletes so they can reach a competition in their best conditions.
This massage can be local or global. It must be a complete massage, including all manoeuvres and techniques, deep and intense, as well as the stretching of all the muscles involved. A minimum of three or four sessions per week on alternate days is recommended. As well, at least one of them must be of a general nature. It is important to keep in mind what season is for the athlete and whether he already has a lesion or not. If so, procedure should be different. We must give priority to the recovery of a lesion and its consequent effects.
Approximate duration should be from 30 to 40 minutes for local massages, and 60 minute for general massages.
- Pre-competition Sport Massage
It takes place just before the competition; it’s a superficial, exciting and invigorating massage. Its purpose is to activate the muscles, blood, and nervous system to bring the athlete to the optimum point for the development of a competition. As a complement to this massage, the athlete must perform a good warm up and stretching session. The athlete has to adapt the vascular and pulmonary rates to those required by the competition.
This type of massage can have a local or general character, and it is of short duration: about 15-20 minutes. It must be applied at a high speed and superficially. One of its effects is the heating of joints and muscles, and an increased metabolism. Due to this, it is normal and advisable to produce an intense hyperaemia. Key techniques to use in this massage are: friction, shaking, percussion, and vibratory stimulations. It is frequently supplemented with creams or sprays of heating effect.
Sometimes, this type of massage is also used within competitions with breaks between trials.
- Sport Massage during competition
Normally this is an urgency massage. Discarding a potential lesion, it is applied during the competition itself when problems as muscle spasms, cramps, muscle fatigue, etc. arise.
This type of massage is normally local and short: about 5-10 minutes. Key techniques to use in this massage are gentle stretching, kneading (of average and depth intensity), shaking, etc. It is frequently supplemented with creams or sprays of heating effect. If the muscles respond to treatment with cramps, we should reduce the amount of pressure and use softer stretches until these symptoms disappear. It is frequently supplemented with creams or/and anti-inflammatory and analgesic sprays.
Undoubtedly, if symptoms persist and pain increases, or obvious signs of a possible injury appear, the competition must be suspended in order to do a better assessment of the lesion.
- Post Competition Sport Massage
Due to the state of exhaustion in which muscles are after the exertion of a competition, the function of this massage is to relax the muscles and promote the elimination of waste products resulting from the increased metabolism. Thus, recovery time is decreased and lesions are prevented. It is a soothing massage and it restores muscles calm. This is not a suitable moment for treating injuries caused by competition. Following days will be the propitious time for this purpose.
Before practicing this massage, once the sports trials are finished, the athlete must let the muscles relax from 10 to 20 minutes, in order to rehydrate and normalise their functions. It is advisable during this time to keep moving and walking.
This massage is combined with gentle stretches. In local massages, the approximate duration is 20-25 minutes, in generals about 40-45 minutes. This massage is characterized by long and slow passes of moderate intensity and average depth. Key techniques are emptying, balancing, and kneading.