Sports massage provides benefits such as improved fitness, endurance, and performance as well as increased flexibility, recovery time, and injury prevention. But sports massage is more than just a massage for athletes. Traditionally, sports massage is a deep tissue massage that targets the deepest layers of muscle in order to stimulate blood flow. It is best done before or after an event as a means to later restore or rehabilitate. Sports massage is given within the four hours preceding an event to improve performance and help decrease injuries. It is used as a supplement to an athlete’s warm up, to enhance circulation, and to reduce excess muscle and mental tension prior to competition. It is normally shorter than a regular conditioning massage, running 10 to 15 minutes, and focuses on warming up the major muscles to be used. Getting the athlete in a good mental state for competition is another benefit. Sports massage also improves tissue pliability, readying the athlete for top performance.
Certain massage techniques can help calm a nervous athlete; others can be stimulating. Post-event sports massage is given after a competition and is mainly focused on recovery. It is geared toward reducing muscle spasms and metabolic build-up that occurs with vigorous exercise. Recovery after competition involves not only tissue normalization and repair, but also general relaxation and mental calming. A recovery session can range from 15 minutes to 1.5 hours in length. To help you find the massage that fits your specific needs, read Spafinder’s guide to Which Massage is Right For You?, or select one of the links on this page for a different massage type.