Anyone can give a massage, but it takes a particular person to become a licensed massage therapist. Indeed, it takes years of training to become a master manipulator of muscles. Sports massage therapists, in particular, offer a specific set of skills and qualifications, knowing just what to do to help their clients recover from, or even prevent, physical injury, and being familiar with the mental benefits of massage, as well.
Let’s take a look at each of these ideas a little more in-depth to understand the vital role that sports massage therapists and their craft can play in the lives of both athletes and non-athletes alike.
Sports Massage Therapists and the Physical Benefits of Sports Massage
Sports massage therapists spend time and money to learn which parts of the body are most susceptible to athletic injury and the best way to treat those soft tissues. However, it is essential to note that a sports massage therapist’s work isn’t restricted solely to treating athletes. Because the parts of the body that are focused on during a sports massage—soft tissues, particularly around joints like the knees and shoulders—can become tense or injured during everyday activity. The causes of such damage include the repeated lifting of objects in manual labor positions or even sitting hunched at a computer desk all day, which makes sports massage appropriate for nearly anyone.
Physically, the techniques used in sports massage can loosen tightened muscles, increase blood flow and overall range of motion, and in some cases, help speed up injury recovery time, depending on the injury the athlete sustains. These massages are done using various techniques, including effleurage: light, stroking touches, and petrissage: firmer, squeezing touches. The sports massage therapist applies these techniques to help soothe tense muscles, improve blood flow, and even help detoxify the muscles by boosting the body’s lymphatic system.
Sports Massage Therapists and the Mental Benefits of Sports Massage
The knowledge possessed by sports massage therapists extends past which nerves and muscles to treat and when. A sports massage therapist is also well-versed in the mental benefits of their occupation.
In general, massage therapy can increase the production of certain chemicals in the brain, particularly dopamine and serotonin. Dopamine is the chemical in the brain that works as a neurotransmitter, helping to regulate, among other things, mood, attention, and motivation. Serotonin is another neurotransmitter, and it also plays a role in mood stabilization and psycho-physio processes such as sexual desire. Because massage therapy can increase these neurotransmitters’ production, there is evidence to suggest that massage therapy may aid in the treatment of certain mental conditions, including depression, insomnia, and anxiety.
A Final Word
To these ends, the work of a sports massage therapist may be especially beneficial to athletes. When sports are such a monumental aspect of your life, the physical benefits of sports massage may help prevent or expedite recovery from an injury or else help with the mental strain that comes with either being sidelined from an injury or being hyperaware of trying to avoid one.
But since the benefits of massage are so wide-ranging, the sports massage therapist’s fundamental role is to improve anyone’s musculoskeletal system, one touch at a time.