We’ve all seen our share of inspiring sports movies. There is always a poignant moment where the coach makes a “down to the final minute” speech, which gives his beat up team the passion they need to finish the game…and of course, to win the game!
Even in the cases of comedy sports films, there is a scene where someone inspires a player. In the Disney film The Game Plan, starring Dwayne Johnson, it’s his daughter who enters the locker room and gives the battered football player the oomph he needs to get back out on the field and win the game.
In sports films, there is always at least one locker room scene including that ever popular inspirational moment. In those scenes, we often see someone being given a massage by the team’s massage or physical therapist. From John Wayne getting a massage before going on to the set to shoot a physically grueling action scene, to Dwayne Johnson getting a massage after a big game, it’s easy to see that massage therapy plays an integral role in the lives of athletes.
Sports massage is a specialty specifically formulated to help athletes, weekend warriors, or those whose life includes a lot of physical activity. Here are some reasons why you should try sports massage if you haven’t already.
BEFORE THE GAME
Before a big game or a physically taxing project at work, your primary focus is being able to endure. Your secondary focus is performing well in your sport; hopefully even winning! Any athlete will tell you – the name of the game is winning.
Endurance, Performance, and Injury Prevention
Sports massage can help with both endurance and performance. A pre-game massage warms up the muscles, and a massage therapist will focus on muscles the athlete repeatedly uses. So, for the cyclist it would be the legs, which experience the most repetitive motion; for the rowing champ, it would be the back and arms. Of course, most muscles are being used during physical activity, but some are worked more than others. Sports massage focuses on these areas so the muscles become more pliable, increasing flexibility to help prevent injury and improve performance.
For anyone who is regularly physically active, whether athlete or those with physically demanding jobs, injury prevention is huge. An injury can not only keep you out of the game, it can bench you for a whole season depending on the injury, perhaps even ending a sports career. And for those whose work is of a physical nature, an injury can mean loss of work and a paycheck. Injury prevention is vital to the livelihood of any athlete or worker.
Anyone who has ever seen a workout video or been to a gym can tell you: for the first few minutes of a workout every instructor, coach, or trainer is going to take you through a warm up. The warm up is so important that some trainers even recommend warming up before you go for a walk. The point is injury prevention is crucial, and massage therapy can help with this.
Massage therapy also helps with circulation. Aiding the flow of blood through the manipulation of the muscles rushes oxygen throughout the body, to the heart and all the other muscles and tissues. This fresh oxygen increases energy and detoxification. Clearing the body of stagnation – whether blood, lymph or energy – helps the body and its systems function more efficiently. When the body functions more efficiently, it can mean higher endurance and better performance on the part of the athlete.
Besides physical benefits, there are mental benefits as well. Massage therapy relaxes the mind. A relaxed mind is very important to an athlete. If you’ve watched or participated in sports, you’ve heard the term “trash talking”. This is a psychological maneuver used by the opposing team to get inside the other team’s head. If the opponent is able to mess with the other teams thinking, focus is reduced and so is performance.
Even if you’re involved in a solo sport, you can experience some sort of “trash talking”. You may have experienced verbal sparring from a competitor. Or, perhaps you are your own worst enemy. In this case, the negative talk comes from within, from your own doubts and insecurities about your ability to perform well. Whatever the case may be, you need to quiet the mind, relax, and find your focus again.
Sports massage can help. Massage therapy of just about any kind will cause some form of mental relaxation, and sports massage isn’t any different. When the mind relaxes, the body relaxes, and once the body relaxes, the muscles can be warmed up even better, and circulation can flow freely. Knowing massage and relaxation can improve your game will help stop those negative voices from taking over and increase your confidence in your abilities.
AFTER THE GAME
Again, injury prevention is high priority and a sports massage after the big game is imperative for this. After working hard, the muscles can seize up, stay contracted, and become inflexible, tight, and sore. Sports massage works the muscles so flexibility isn’t lost, and it could be a big player in reducing post-workout soreness. You will also be able to recover more quickly. All of these – improving flexibility, reducing soreness and recovering quickly – are key factors in reducing the possibility of injury. When you have less chance of injury, you’re able to stay in the game longer and achieve your goals.
When you have a physically demanding job, whether you’re a contractor or a professional athlete, sports massage can help you perform your best. It will help you avoid injury, therefore preventing loss of work and pay. And, massage therapy can assist you in keeping your mind focused on the game and doing your best instead of getting caught up in negative “trash talk” from opponents or yourself. Talk to your massage therapist today to see how sports massage can help you have an A game.