Event massage – Pre-event, during event and Post-event. This usually occurs on-site at the actual sports events. Pre-event massage is different than post event massage. Pre-event massage is done before the event to further assist in the athletes warm up (but does not replace their physical warm up process) which requires that you have an understanding of the sport that they are participating in. Massage can change the timing of an athlete’s movement and make them feel weak if too much is done before and event. Event massage is usually between 5-15 minutes so you have to know what you are doing and be able to get right to the heart of the issue.
Massage done during an event such as a basketball or baseball game is done to keep the athlete warmed up and address any tightness or stiffness and keep the athlete going. In sports like baseball where there is time on the bench between innings, this could be valuable to athlete’s performance.
Post event massage is done directly after the event to help the athlete recover from their exertion. The massage therapist will also need to be skilled in assessing an athletes condition after an event to see if massage is indicated or to know when and athlete need further medical attention for over-exertion or other problems. Many athletes will push themselves beyond their capabilities and that could lead to dehydration, injuries and even shock.
Training massage applied during training for events including maintenance massage in the off season. Training may involve other activities besides their regular sport such as weight lifting, cross training in other sports and cardio training. The massage therapist will need to be aware of various kinds of work out routines and know when to apply and when not to apply massage. The main goal is to keep the athlete injury free so they can continue their training.
Rehabilitation for injuries and issues that stop athletes from participating in their activities.
The massage therapist will need an understanding of strains and sprains and how to treat them accordingly to avoid further injury and to get back to training as quickly as possible. Athletes are prone to injuries like Achilles tendonitis, tennis elbow, knee pain, hip pain, back and neck pain, Plantar Fasciitis (foot pain), shoulder strains and sprains, Iliotibial Band Tendonitis and many other debilitating conditions. You will need to understand the principles of healing and how to apply massage during every phase of healing.
Benefits of massage for athletes.
- Reduces anxiety and depression which allows for better training and performance.
- Reduces muscle tension.
- Reduces muscle hypertonicity (chronic contraction of a muscle in response to genetic, mechanical, chemical, or psychological stressors. Increased tonus results in a shortened, tight muscle.)
- Reduces the risk of injury in athletes allowing them to focus on training.
- Increases Mobility and range of motion: Flexibility is one of the keys to strength.
- Helps in relaxation – the more relaxed an athlete, the better they are generally in their sport.
- Facilitates healing of scar tissue.
- Reduces swelling.
- Relieves triggerpoints or knots in muscle tissue.
- Helps athlete build strength during training seasons.
- Helps athlete achieve peak performance.
Further Reading on Sports Massage
The Massage Therapists Guide to Sports Massage. Massage Magazine. Sept 2018.
AMTA Positions Paper. Massage for those who exercise. 2011
Books on Learning Sports Massage