If you’ve been training long enough, you’ve probably found out that with training come some bumps and bruises that you just have to work through. Sure you can stretch and that will help tremendously with range of motion and nutrient distribution, but to relieve muscle knots and trigger points can take a specialist if you’re not properly trained. Getting a sports massage can help a lot with overall reduction in muscle soreness and improving muscle elasticity. Find out the pros and cons of getting a sports massage and whether or not you should invest in such a thing or if you can you really provide yourself with all the self-care you need.
What is a Sports Massage?
A sports massage differs from a relaxing day at the spa massage because the end goals are different for each type. For a relaxation massage, the end goal is just that – pure relaxation. This helps the muscles to all calm down and help alleviate some bound up stress you may have from the way you sit or stand. A sports massage is much more intense and the end goal is to get the body to achieve full range of motion throughout specific muscular contractions and movements. Therapists do this through numerous techniques such as gua sha, acupuncture, cupping and numerous other forms of trigger point release techniques.
Some of these techniques really do cause some pain but it’s due to the bound up scar tissue that is prohibiting proper form and movement and thus causing pain while you lift and train. Releasing pain usually does not mean rubbing or releasing at the physical point of pain. For example shoulder pain could derive from a tight chest, tight traps and tight biceps femoris. Releasing these overworked muscle areas can relieve tension off the shoulder and enable better shoulder range of motion.
The Benefits of a Sports Massage
The obvious pro of receiving a sports massage is the benefit of having better muscle relaxation and movement as well as increased blood flow and nutrients to the area. This all directly translates into better performance on and off the field. Utilizing things like active/passive release techniques not only helps with relief but helps with better mind-muscle connection.
Part of the reason you’re unable to contract an area properly (hence the pain you’re probably having) is because you’re not able to get your body into a correct position. For example, slumped shoulders spell disaster when it comes to impingement syndrome. The problem though does not lie within the shoulder girdle itself though- it usually stems from overactive muscle on the back of the shoulder and into the back. Releasing trigger points in the trap (first rib), rotator cuff and even the lats will allow the shoulder to sit back into the correct position and clear a path for proper movement and function.
Are There Any Cons?
Some cons of having a sports massage is first of all, they hurt. We’re not talking just your run of the mill stretching in a Saturday morning yoga class. To really provide your body with relief form pain, you have to really put it through some intense pain (although short-lived) in order to see results. Another bad vibe that surrounds the sports massage and other forms of therapy is the fact that they will completely heal you of any ailment. Not true. You still have to go see a doctor/surgeon if you’ve got broken or fractured bones or torn ligaments and things like this are not something to let a therapist mess around with.
Seek immediate medical care and have an MRI or X-ray if pain is too much to bear on a day-to-day basis or if you’re uncertain things are getting better through your active release massages. Finally, the other downside of receiving a sports massage is simple: time and money. To get a good upper body release massage, it would usually run around 1 ½ hours or so and right around $100. Throw this into your weekly routine and that adds up to a small mortgage payment, so it can be pricey.
Although lengthy, painful and pricey, sports massages are a great option to take your fitness to the next level. Besides that, it’s a great way to improve gym longevity for you for years to come. A suggestion would be to get one about once a month and then work with your therapist on ways to do some self-care at home through trigger point release, active stretching and foam rolling. Keep your body in check and it will reward you in the long run.