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Sports Massage Therapy

Sports massage therapy differs from conventional massage therapy. Its specific manual techniques and instruction in special therapeutic exercises enhance the performance of athletes recovering from strenuous activity, prevent overuse problems and injuries, and help rehabilitate injuries.

History of Sports Massage Therapy

Sports massage therapy has been a time-honoured practice. Some of the earliest recorded uses date back to the Greek & Roman Empires when massage therapy was used by boxing, and track & field athletes. Sports massage therapy was used extensively in North America in the early 1900's. This use decreased mid-century due to increases in modern medicine. During the 1970's, sports massage therapy made a resurgence and is now seen at almost all major sporting events around the world.

Effects and Benefits of Sports Massage Therapy

  • Promotes superficial & deep circulation*
  • Promotes lymphatic circulation*
  • Promotes greater flexibility & range of motion***
  • Promotes and maintains range of motion through active and passive remedial exercises***
  • Relieves muscle spasms & cramps*
  • Decreases pain & soreness due to training**

The above factors may contribute to athletes being able to train more often, at a higher level of intensity, and with less physical problems such as overuse injuries and muscle soreness. Sports massage therapy is designed to be a part of athletes' overall training programs, much like a regular warm-up or stretch routine, but should never replace other components of training.

How Often Sports Massage Therapy Should be Used

Application of sports massage therapy techniques depends on athletes' goals, and their training and competition schedule. Ideal use of sports massage therapy is 2-3 times/wk. If scheduling only allows 1 time/wk, it should follow the hardest training session (anywhere from 1-8 hrs after the workout). Length of treatment can vary - as little as 5 minutes done through clothing, to a full hour using oil. The duration of the massage treatment depends on the situation. Sports massage therapy can also be used in the pre-event, inter-event, and post-event times to help achieve optimal performance.

What are the Qualifications Needed to Perform Sports Massage Therapy?

Many people perform what could be considered sports massage therapy without being Registered Massage Therapists. One danger in this situation is that the person giving the massage may not understand the effects of their treatment and may adversely affect athletes' performances - the opposite of the goal desired in rendering sports massage therapy treatments.

Registered Massage Therapists in B.C. (RMTs) are specifically trained to apply various massage therapy techniques in different sports situations, and to achieve desired results from a treatment. RMTs are professionals who should be sought out if athletes are serious about using massage therapy as part of their training program.

Where to Find a Sports Massage Therapist

RMTs who are qualified to work with athletes can be found by contacting:

Massage Therapy Association of British Columbia Canadian Sports Massage Association Sports Medicine Council of BC

*A physicians Guide to Therapeutic Massage, Dr. John Yates, Ph.D., 1990

**QTF on Spinal Disorders, Spine 12, no 7, Suppl: (Sep 1987): sl-59

***Sinikka Levoska, Arch Phys Med Rehabil, Vol, 74, April 1993

The above information has been provided courtesy of the Massage Therapists' Association of BC

Last Updated on Thursday, 30 July 2009 05:19