There are many different forms of massage developed in cultures all around the world. Indeed, massage was going on 3000 years ago as a form of physical therapy.
When it comes to sport, there is a very real purpose to massage. Professional cycling massage, and sports massage in general, is recognised as a fantastic way to aid recovery after training or competition, and to aid performance too. In the professional world of sport, whether it’s cycling or tennis, massage has now been fully integrated as an integral part of any training regime.
Essentially any prolonged spell of exercise places an awful lot of stress up our muscles. The muscles are subject to overuse in professional sports and this results in tissue damage that can and will hinder performance if not addressed. It is here that massage is of great benefit.
Benefits of Sports Massage
Effective massage will release muscle tension and aid repair and balance to tissue. If regularly received, massage acts as a preventative measure against injury. If there is tension in the muscles caused by regular use or over-use, this will lead to problems with joints, ligaments and tendons. A massage therapist will be able to identify areas that require work and focus their techniques on ensuring recovery is achieved.
All massage techniques are carried out with the specific aim of increasing blood flow towards the heart. The increase in venous and lymphatic flow during massage ensures that no damage is caused to blood vessels and no pressure is created against closed valves. The only time that blood flow is not taken into account is when short strokes are targeted at stretching the muscle fibres.
There are three categories of massage that are used in sport. Find out a bit about them below:
This is a form of massage that involves stroking movements with the fingers and palm of the hand. Pressure is varied depending on the purpose and all massage will start with this technique. It is a very rhythmical form of massage and focuses on warming the tissues, increasing blood flow and muscle relaxation. It is also used to identify areas of tightness or abnormality in the tissue.
This technique is a kneading process that goes deeper into the tissue and assists with stretching muscle fibres and relaxing the muscles. This is a powerful technique that is also particularly effective when it comes to mobilising fluids that are deep inside certain muscle areas. It is used for thighs and backs mainly, as it can be ineffective on narrow body areas.
Friction is a technique used to explore areas of pain and for deeper massage to break down knots or scar tissue form recent injury. It can be very painful at the time but the results are beneficial. The technique is only carried out for a very short time as it can be uncomfortable for the recipient and excessive use of the technique can result in inflammation or irritation.