A sports massage can be beneficial to anyone, injured or not. There are several physical, physiological, and psychological benefits from a sports massage treatment.
For example, a sports massage increases mobility, prevents injuries, boosts performance, and plays an integral part in rehabilitating injured tissue due to its effects of scar tissue.
Stretching – Massage stretches tissues that cannot be stretched manually. Muscle fibres are stretched in varying directions and massage can optimally target this. Sports massage also stretches the fascia surrounding the muscles, releasing tension build-up.
Breaks Down Scar Tissue – Scar tissue is formed after an injury and can have a negative effect on muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Scar tissue can increase the risk of re-injury or future injuries. Sports massage helps to break down and control scar tissue formation.
Vacuum Pump – The pressure from massage strokes creates a vacuum which sucks fluid through the blood and lymph vessels. This is very beneficial to tight or damages muscle tissue as tight muscles squeeze blood out like a sponge. This deprives the muscle tissue of the vital nutrients it needs to repair itself.
Increased Nutrient Absorbency – Deep massage strokes cause the pores in tissue membranes to open. This allows fluids and nutrients to pass through easily. This is beneficial as it helps remove waste products like lactic acid and promotes an increase in oxygen and nutrient uptake, helping them recover quicker.
Improve Tissue Flexibility – Intense training can make tissues, especially muscles, tight and inflexible. Sports massage helps control this by stretching the tissues and address any specific areas of tightness.
Increased Blood Flow – Sports massage increases blood flow to the tissues but so does heat and exercise. However, massage also dilates the blood vessels and lightly stretches them, enabling nutrients to easily pass through.
Reduces Pain – Tension, tight points and waste products in muscles can cause pain. Sports massage reduces this by addressing the issue and releasing endorphins.
Relaxation – The heat generated from massage, along with the improved circulation and tissue stretching causes the muscles to relax. The bodies mechanoreceptors which sense touch, tissue length, pressure and heat are stimulated, resulting in reflex relaxation.
Boost Immune System – Massage stimulates nerves that connect to glands storing T-Cells causing a release of lymphocytes in the blood. After massage lymphocyte T-cells increase by around 20%.
Reduced Stress & Anxiety – A sports massage lowers the heart rate and increases body temperature which promotes relaxation. When the body relaxes, stress levels decrease, and the feeling of calmness increases. A sports massage treatment also causes the release of endorphins which calm the peripheral nervous system. The peripheral nervous system is the brain and bodies communication. When endorphins are released the message of calmness and relaxation is sent to the brain. On top of this, a one-hour massage reduces the stress hormone level in the body by around 30%.
Improved Sleep Quality – Massage helps improve the quality of sleep largely because of the relaxation benefits mentioned above. Sports massage also causes the release of serotonin, an important hormone for a good night’s sleep and encourages more time spent in the deep, restorative stages of sleep.
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