Massage provides a range of benefits, whether you are an athlete looking to recover faster or just someone looking to unwind and feel good. There are so many types on offer. From relaxation massage to remedial, trigger point, shiatsu, Swedish, Thai, deep tissue or sports, it can be hard to know which is going to be best for you.
I personally love massages and have had a range of them over the years. But since they are expensive, you want to ensure that they effectively address what you need.
Sports massage is usually what I ask for. They are similar to deep tissue massages, but usually a bit more intense.
Yes, they are painful. But I always find that the sports massage style provides the most benefit. Particularly if I’ve been training a lot. I also can’t stand a massage that is too soft.
Sports massage benefits
Typically, you can expect a range of techniques to be used during a sports massage. There will most likely be a lot of deep kneading to release the connective tissues around the muscles, stretching of the tissue and muscles and more targeted trigger point release to work into spots that are tight and tender. That’s when things get painful. But afterwards, you will feel like a new person. After a good sports massage, I always feel so much more balanced when I stand up and walk around. My shoulders can also visually appear more relaxed.
A good sports massage also helps to increase circulation and lymph flow. This, in turn, helps to flush out build up of toxins that accumulate during strenuous exercise. That’s why it’s important to drink enough water after a massage, to help this process along. If you have access to an infrared sauna, those are great after a massage as well.
When choosing a sports massage therapist, I always look for people who have had a lot of experience working on athletes. In terms of what I get treated, whole body is ideal. Continuing to train with a lot of tightness in one place tends to have a chain reaction, creating tightness and imbalance throughout the whole body. However, covering the whole body can take up to two hours. If you only have one hour, which is more common, I like to focus on shoulders, back and hips. Every person is different, but these are the areas that I find get the tightest from Muay Thai. And the calf muscles and feet if there’s time.
But remember, even if you’re getting regular massages, it’s still important to stretch regularly. I previously wrote about some different types of stretching and notice a huge difference if I keep it up regularly.