The History of Sports Massage

what are the benefits of sports massage

Therapeutic sports massage is a technique that treats recreational activity-related injuries and pains. Modernly, this therapeutic massage practice is mainly used as a healing technique for athletes. Historically, these massage recovery techniques are used and developed as far back as 8000 BC. 



Dating back to 8000 BC, people in China used massage as a way to treat ailments. Ancient Persians and Indians also often healed through the art of massage techniques. In ancient Rome, they even used massage to help the gladiators recover after the Olympic battle games. Areas all around Asia and Europe used different forms of massage practices to heal aches and pains, which would be the first glimpses of what we now consider sports massage therapy to be. 

Later on, in history, but still dating back to way before modern medicine, other advances took place. In 100 AD, the first school of massage was opened in China. Much later down the road, in 1812, Henrik Ling, a gymnast and fencing master, combined Swedish massage with other exercises to create kinesiotherapy. This type of therapy, which applies scientific exercises to strength and endurance enhancement, was the first early modern step to today’s sports massage. 


Modern Medicine 

In 1900, the Finnish School of Massage developed the Sports Massage Methods, which outlined different therapies that use massage to help with activity-based injuries and pains. Later on, in 1924, Paavo Nurmi, a five-time gold medalist in the Olympics, popularized sports massage as a recovery technique when he claimed the therapy helped improve his performance. 

The popularization of sports massage grew and spread throughout Europe as well as throughout America. In the 1970s, M.D James Cyriax, the father of orthopedics, developed a deep friction technique that is still being used today. 

In 1986, the inclusion of sports massage in American athletes” training led to the National Sports Massage Team launch. 


Sports Massage Today 

Between the years 1996 and 2010, sports injuries were treated mainly with various techniques of massage therapy. With the growth in popularity of sports massage techniques and recognizing its genuine assistance in recovery from severe, painful injuries, it became the primary recovery technique for athletes. 

Modernly, becoming a sports masseuse requires a person to go through specific training. Generally, a person working to become a sports masseuse requires a post-secondary class of between 500 and 1,000 hours. Then, to acquire their license, they need to pass an exam. 

Medical professionals, and therapists like sports masseuses, know now that there are so many benefits to massage therapy, from assisting with pains and stiffness to increasing mobility. These various therapy techniques treat ailments from swelling and soft-tissue injuries to a restricted range of motion. 

Though it has evolved considerably from the time of ancient China, sports massage therapy continues to improve. Recently, professionals are focusing both on physiological and psychological approaches to sports injury remedies. 

Acupuncture and Tennis Elbow

acupuncture at copthall health

Acupuncture is a time-worn and popular method of holistic treatment for various aches and pains proven to be an effective treatment against multiple types of conditions, particularly those suffered by athletes. But would acupuncture work for such straining injuries as tennis elbow? 

Acupuncture has proven to be at least mildly effective in treating such conditions as tennis elbow. 

But to understand what makes the treatment effective, it is necessary to understand how tennis elbow presents as an injury, how acupuncture works as a practice, and the risks involved with the procedure. 


What Is Tennis Elbow? 

As the name might suggest, tennis elbow is an injury that is common among tennis players – and others who make repetitive motions with their arms or wrist. Tennis elbow occurs when the soft tissues and muscles in the arm and wrist become irritated. The chief symptoms of tennis elbow are pain and a limited range of motion. 


What is Acupuncture? 

The modern practice of acupuncture is derived from the ancient Chinese holistic medicinal approach meant to improve qi’s flow or life force energy, throughout the body, by inserting tiny needles into strategic points on the patient’s body. 


How Does Acupuncture Work?

During an acupuncture session, the acupuncturist inserts tiny needles to varying depths under the patient’s skin. In certain instances, the point of insertion may not be anywhere close to the area experiencing pain. For example, in the tennis elbow treatment, the acupuncturist may insert the needle into another part of the body to allow the nerve impulse to migrate to the injured area. 

Beyond the initial prick of the needle on your skin, you may not even feel it at all, depending on how sensitive you are to needles. The only uncomfortable sensation may be if the needle is manipulated directly on the sore spot.

The needles’ insertion helps to stimulate the nervous system and inhibits the neurological responses that transmit pain. Additionally, because the patient is relaxed and the muscles and soft tissues are being manipulated, serotonin and dopamine are being produced, which can have that same pain-mitigating effect, if not to block it altogether. 

Although acupuncture can be an effective treatment for aches and pains of different sorts, it may not be for everyone. It is best to consult a medical professional before undergoing any alternative practice. Acupuncture may pose risks for individuals with certain bleeding disorders, pacemakers, or who may be pregnant.  


A Final Word 

There isn’t a tremendous amount of concrete scientific study to back up the practice of acupuncture. But there are thousands of years’ worth of continual practice and patient testimony that lend credence to acupuncture as a way of treating pain. And for the sufferer of tennis elbow, a few sessions of acupuncture are well worth the ability to stop their pain, improve their range of motion, and feel better overall.