Are you achieving the level of success in your sport? Are you age-group competitive? Is your body responding the way it used to? Are you a weekend warrior? Are you a college athlete? Are you walking your first 5K run? Does your body recover quickly?
Most athletes prepare for event day with proper exercise, training, nutritionally fueling the body, appropriate apparel, and good sleep patterns. Athletes are intense and are always looking for the competitive edge, but many are missing one crucial aspect of keeping the body in optimal condition: a truly balanced training regimen that includes sports massage therapy.
I grew up running track and playing competitive tennis with coaches that had you competing on injuries and sore muscles. There was no focus on self-care which was my foundation of how to train for races up until six years ago when I started training for triathlons with a goal of being healthy and injury-free which led me to sports massage therapy.
So, what is sports massage therapy and why is it important?
According to the American Massage Therapy Association, regular sports massages can, among many other benefits:
- reduce muscle tension
- improve performance
- increase your range of motion
- decrease soreness and pain after activity
- decrease the chance of exercise-related injury
- promote focus and relaxation
What to expect in Sports Massage Therapy
At the start of the massage, the massage therapist may perform posture and movement assessments to determine if there are any muscular or structural dysfunctions of the body. The importance of proper alignment allows the body to be the most efficient in movement and does not have the body compensating throughout the kinetic movement chain. This analysis guides the massage therapist on which muscles may need to be addressed with soft tissue work and allows them to develop an effective massage therapy treatment plan.
Sports massage therapy combines various massage techniques to enhance athletic performance and help reduce recovery time. Deep tissue, trigger point release therapy, and muscle scraping are effective on muscle knots and adhesions. Cupping therapy encourages blood flow, aids in loosening muscles, and sedates the nervous system. Assisted stretching and muscle energy therapy improve flexibility and reduce stress on joints. What makes sports massage therapy appealing is the specific techniques used to target various athletes. A massage therapist should be a partner in your training to help achieve your goals!
The Competitive Edge
Sports massage therapy aids athletes to attain their optimal performance by accelerating the body’s natural restorative processes, helping the athlete to participate more often in rigorous physical training and conditioning. Another benefit is the ability to target critical muscle-tendon connections, keeping them healthy and supple. The focus of the sports massage technique is specific to the athlete's sport of choice and focuses on areas of the body that are overused and stressed from repetitive and often aggressive movements.
For anyone participating in regular physical activity, sports massage therapy every one to two weeks may be a great addition to your training regimen. Sports massage therapy can be used to enhance pre-event preparation and reduce recovery time for maximum performance during training or post-event.
“Wherever attention goes, energy flows!”
Lori Vargas, Spa Vargas Wellness founder, entrepreneur, spa consultant, mother, ironman triathlete
Lori Vargas founded Spa Vargas Wellness in 2001 and currently has 3 locations in the Chicagoland area. Since then, she founded Vargas Consulting with projects that include Hilton, Sheraton, Wyndham, and Key Lime Cove, and in 2009, the International Massage and Spa Academy. Based on her experience in the spa industry, the curriculum focuses on educating students to become business minded nurturing massage therapists. As a mother of two boys, Lori strives to create a balanced life and is always in the pursuit of living in the present. “My children have become my inspiration, and I am grateful to them for the happiness they have brought to my life. Of course, we have a dog, two cats, two parakeets and three fish, so our home is not a tranquil environment!.