Numerous massage practices offer sports massage for the everyday massage enthusiast and generally includes invigorating strokes and stretching. But sports massage is so much more than that when it comes to dealing with professional and amateur athletes. Here are the main components:
Pre-Event – This is performed between 6 to 48 hours prior to a sporting event. The main purpose is to increase the circulation of blood to the muscles to allow them to be flushed and oxygenated. Light stretching may also be performed to assist with flexibility and increase range of motion at the joint. The athlete must be aware that this is not to be used as a substitute for actual warm up exercises. The therapist needs to be cautious and not perform manual therapy that may affect the muscles of the athlete (for example, loosening up tight leg muscles on a runner as this will affect their performance and speed).
Event / Pre-Competition – This is performed between 6 hours to the actual event time. Very similar to Pre-Event but with less time before the actual event, the therapist must be cautious and not be too aggressive in their treatment and shorten the routine. At this point, less is more.
Inter-competition – This is performed in between events or activity of the sport. Here the therapist must ease over-exerted muscles. Caution must be taken to not relax the athlete but simply provide relief for aching muscles.
Post-Event – This is performed 30 minutes to 6 hours after the sporting event. The goal of the therapist is to flush out the muscles and stretch the athlete to prevent DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). This will assist the athlete’s body with it’s recovery time.
Recovery – Performed 6 hours to 48 hours after the event, it is very similar to Post-Event but at this time muscle strains and other mild injuries can b worked on so that the athlete does not lose any down time and can resume their training.
Maintenance – This is when the athlete is treated for and allowed time to heal from chronic injuries through specialized massage techniques. Stretching can also be incorporated to slowly increase flexibility.
Rehabilitation – This is used to increase blood flow and loosen muscles in an injured area. His helps speed up healing time to allow the athlete to get back to training.
-Rogie Leo Doyle