Massage therapy plays a number of roles in improving sports performance and decreasing the risk of injury by increasing range of motion, assisting with soft tissue recovery, and increasing circulation and nourishment in muscle tissue.
A 15-30 minute session before performing athletic activities will raise the body temperature and increase range of motion. If necessary, a therapist can focus on the area that will require exertion during the athletic activity. Therapeutic massage within an hour after the activity will help relieve muscle cramps, reduce edema by restoring the natural blood and lymph flow, and speed up the recovery process.
Massage techniques vary from light touch to deep tissue. Most massage treatments incorporate a variety of modalities into the session:
If an athlete is injured, the first thing that we recommend is RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. After 48 to 72 hours, massage could be used to reduce blood stagnation and lactic acid build up, prevent adhesion formation, and stimulate the neuromuscular pathways. Lymphatic drainage techniques may be applied to reduce swelling and help the whole body relax and re-integrate after the stress associated with injury.
Once the initial, acute stage of the injury has passed, deeper tissue work can be used to increase circulation and re-establish body awareness. If a strain or sprain is present, light stroking in the direction of muscle fibers and gentle twisting of fiber above or below the injury can reduce adhesion formation.
In cases of tendonitis (inflammation of the tendon), light friction techniques across the injured fiber with alternating intensity can be used, followed by icing.