Whether you’re a pro athlete or you just work out for fun, physical activity is always accompanied by the risk of injury. According to the CDC, more than 10,000 Americans are admitted to ER rooms every day from injuries related to sports, recreational activities, and exercise. The CDC also reports that more than half of these injuries are preventable.
Before doctor’s visits, prescriptions, or even physical therapy, it should be said that Sports Massages serve to treat athletic injuries of every caliber, and in many cases, act as a preventative measure against them. Massage therapy isn’t new — especially for serious athletes — but it’s still underutilized by the general public.
The best way to discover which modality is right for you is by visiting your local spa – If you’re in or near New York City, a perennial classic and personal favorite is Oasis Day Spa, where all of these modalities are practiced for numerous athletes including countless NYC Marathoners! But in the meantime, consider this your brief introduction to the wide world of Massage and Manual Therapy, whether you’re a professional athlete or just casually active.
Living up to its namesake, this massage caters to athletes who need to recover from muscle stress and injury… fast. The Sports Massage works by promoting blood circulation and lymph fluids through targeting special muscle groups. Sports Massages often also utilize Trigger Point Therapy, which works to break down adhesions in muscles and increase range of motion. Whether preparing for a specific event, or just recovering from one, Sports Massage Therapists help athletes of all disciplines by focusing directly on key-stress-areas: for golfers, runners, and tennis players, for example, attention is paid to the leg and knee joints to alleviate pain and promote healing, while also focusing on the back and spine, to prevent further injury. This massage is also useful for anyone with chronic pain or motion-impairment issues.
DEEP TISSUE MASSAGE:
The go-to for anyone experiencing serious tightness or soreness. It focuses on realigning deep muscle layers and connective tissues, with therapists often employing direct deep pressure or friction across muscle grain. This massage is particularly effective for athletes with adhesions in muscles, tendons, and ligaments, blocking circulation that causes limited movement, inflammation, and pain.
Most people find themselves in some discomfort following the massage, even as long as the following day, because the massage releases lactic acid (the same chemical released during strenuous workouts) leaving muscles sore and in mild pain. Make sure to communicate with your massage therapist before diving straight in: gauging your level of tolerance is really important here, both for you and your therapist. Good communication lets them know just how deep they can work your muscle tissue, and just how good you’ll feel afterwards. Eventually.
HOT STONE MASSAGE:
Most spas offer their own version of the Hot Stone Massage. Originally pioneered by early Native Americans, this massage employs the use of smooth, fire-warmed stones to soothe pain and promote healing on the back or targeted muscle groups. Masseuses treat the stones as an extension of their hands, using the heat to foster pain relief and muscle comfort (not dissimilar to a hot shower), allowing therapists to quickly work deep into muscle tissue. Hot Stones are one of the most common spa modalities; other extra-manual treatments, like ice and electric stimulation, are also found in spas nationwide, but each spa is different. Finding the right modality for you is a crucial element to your massage therapy’s effectiveness, and if other massage treatments aren’t working for you, or you need a good starting point, Hot Stone Massages can be an excellent solution.
So there you have it. Three great massages, for whatever pain ails you. It should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: it’s critical for every athlete, whether serious or not, to take care of themselves! Make sure to warm up and cool down correctly, have the proper equipment for whatever sport or activity you’re performing, and listen to your body: if something feels off, there’s no better time to consult a massage therapist.
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Shannon began A Girl’s Gotta Spa! beauty blog in 2005 to morph her love of beauty and in educating women on what truly works and what does not. In 2013 she launched a bath and body line as an extention of the beauty blog. One thing she always has on her at all times? Lip balm.