Massage therapy has been an important part of training professional athletes for years but only recently have scientific studies shown how effective they really are. For athletes, a sports massage is the way to and you can find many massage therapists like Adam Harris that can provide them. Whether you’re a professional or just looking to improve your next performance event, a pre-event sports massage is worth considering as part of your training.
Sports massages come in a few different types based on when you receive them, each with different effects on the body.
- Immediately before a competition (pre-event)
- Between competitions on the same day (inter-event)
- Immediately after a competition (post-event)
- During the training program (therapeutic)
For this post though we’ll just be focusing on pre-event massages. The main difference between this type and the others is that it seeks to loosen the muscles rather than relax them. The others are mostly focused on muscle growth and recovery while a pre-event massage aims to warm up the muscle tissues and get the athlete pumped up for the event.
Most pre-event massages are no more than 10-15 minutes in duration and can be performed anytime from two days before the event until immediately before it. The closer to the event the massage is done the lighter it should be. A deep-tissue massage would distort the athlete’s muscles too much before an event and only leave them feeling drowsy. Instead, the massage should be light but fast which will invigorate the muscles for greater flexibility. The key is to bring warmth and stimulation to the outer tissues wile stimulating blood flow through the inner muscles.
This is also a great time for sports psychology while applying the massage, the therapist should be talking positively to the athlete to get them prepared for the competition. Each athlete prepares for an event in different ways so it’s important that the therapist understands how they get ready first.
Increased Blood flow: all massages seek to increase blood flow through the body. This allows nutrients to flow through the body while reducing toxins. But a pre-event massage also aims to draw blood flow to desired areas that will increase performance.
Increased joint mobility: for events that require a lot of flexibility this will make a big difference in performance. Greater joint mobility will allow for faster responses to a changing situation such as boxing. However, if speed is the goal then this should be used with caution as it can actually slow down an athlete a bit if performed right before the event.
Improved mental stamina: as mentioned above a pre-event massage is a great time to give the athlete a bit of extra motivation as well as better mental clarity. Positive talk combined with the calming effects of a massage can be of great help in overcoming pre-event anxiety and boosting enthusiasm for an event. This can also have a placebo effect by making the athlete believe that any perceived muscle issues are being worked out. They can also gain greater confidence from believing that they are getting something the other athletes aren’t, thereby getting an edge on the competition.