Megan here. One reason I enjoy sports massage so much is because I am also an athlete. I played every sport I could get my hands on in high school and I now enjoy powerlifting. But sports massage is not just for college or high school athletes. It’s for everyone who moves. I consider everyone who enjoys playing a sport — or even just enjoys walking their dog — to be an athlete. So sports massage is essential for just about everyone.
Sports massage is very similar to Swedish massage in that it uses a lot of the same techniques. However, they are modified to make them deeper and more specific. I consider sports massage to be more of an active session for the client as you may be asked to hold the drape for a specific technique or be asked to contract and relax a specific muscle group. Stretching is another big part of sports massage. I use basic sports massage techniques together with more specific massage modalities like Myofascial Release (MFR) and Neuromuscular Therapy (NMT) to achieve the goals of tissue maintenance and injury prevention.
There are three branches of sports massage: Event massage, Maintenance massage, and Treatment massage.
Event massage helps you prepare for and recover from a specific physical event. Jostling and tapotement (in other words, a lot of movement) is used in event massage to help stimulate your body. Event massage is performed at the site of your event. It lasts 15-20 minutes and is done over your clothing.
There are also three branches of event massage including Pre-event, Inter-event, and Post-event. Pre-event is done before the event and is invigorating and stimulating to prepare your muscles and body for the event. Inter-event is done in between the event (like at half-time). Post-event is done after the event and is meant to be slower and a little more relaxing.
I performed Pre- and Post-event massage for a family member who ran, swam, and biked in a triathlon. Pre-event helped her to prepare for the event. After she had finished the race, she was absolutely exhausted and barely made it to where we were sitting. I performed Post-event massage on her immediately for about 20 minutes, which helped flush out lactic acid. She said she she wouldn’t have been able to get up without the Post-event massage. She also reported the next day that she wasn’t as sore as she expected to be, especially considering she had been more sore after some of the training she had done to prepare for the triathlon.
Maintenance massage is often a full body experience, while also focused on certain areas of the body based on your area of complaint. Maintenance massage helps to keep you training and competing at your highest level by maintaining tissue flexibility and muscle relaxation. It also helps to minimize the effects of physical events on your body. I’ve often heard it referred to as preventative massage, which is accurate because it does reduce the risk of injury.
A maintenance massage is tailored to your specific needs by thoroughly addressing the muscle groups that are under the most stress, depending on your sport. It also includes general massage on the rest of the body. For example, a maintenance massage for a sprinter would likely begin with your hips and legs for most of the massage and end with basic sports massage techniques on the upper body.
Treatment massage is when you have suffered an acute injury or when the chronic strains of activity have accumulated to the point where training or performance capacity are diminished. The primary intention of treatment massage is to enhance the healing process and help you return to full activity more quickly. This massage is more focused and limited to the injured joint or muscles and surrounding tissue.
Sports massage is beneficial to people from all walks of life. It can be helpful for specific events, specific injuries, or even daily pains. Whether you’re a professional athlete preparing for the big game, or a weekend warrior taking advantage of the many recreational opportunities in and around Bozeman, or just someone who likes to take your dog to the dog park, sports massage can help keep you enjoying the activities you love most.
Thanks for reading. I hope to see you on my massage table soon!