When you hear the term “massage therapy,” you probably picture the epitome of relaxation in the form of a serene, candle-lit spa room. However, as recent studies have shown, massages aren’t just for those looking to get pampered. In fact, massage therapy is actually an effective technique used by athletic trainers to help improve the health of athletes, whether it’s to reduce pain inflicted by injury or to decrease the amount of time they’ll spend in recovery. Here’s why every athlete should consider getting a massage, and all the benefits massage therapy has to offer them:
Massages that are designed specifically for athletes bring on a surplus of physiological benefits that once seemed almost impossible to achieve – especially post injury. A massage elicits a mechanical response (due to the pressure and movement), as well as a reflex response (thanks to the stimulation of nerves). These responses reduce muscle tension, hypertonicity, swelling and even breathing pattern disorders. Massage therapy has also been known to decrease delayed onset muscle soreness, in addition to stiffness and fatigue after a game, practice or exercise of any kind. Massages improve an athlete’s range of motion, soft tissue function, athletic performance and makes them more aware of their muscle tone. In terms of cardiovascular benefits, massage therapy helps to recover an athlete’s heart rate variability and diastolic blood pressure, especially after a workout with a high intensity. Athletes who receive massages from athletic trainers on a regular basis are even thought to avoid more injuries than those who do not.
When athletes receive a massage, it’s a well thought out and proactive process, with a specific goal in mind based on what the athlete’s body needs. For this reason, there are a few different approaches an athletic trainer can take while utilizing advanced massage therapy techniques on each patient. The Graston Techniques is used to treat soft tissue injuries specifically. It allows the trainer to use stainless steel instruments in conjunction with therapeutic exercise to pinpoint and treat areas affected by chronic inflammation and soft tissue fibrosis, so he or she can discover areas the athlete didn’t even know needed serious attention. For those athletes that wish to recover from an over-used muscle condition, an athletic trainer will likely choose the Active Release Technique. This massage technique is based on movement, and is not limited to just muscle issues specifically – in fact, it also treats issues with ligaments, tendons, fascia and nerves. The Myofascial Release is another effective technique, utilizing gentle and sustained pressure into the Myofascial connective tissue; this gets rid of pain and makes motion more fluid. Any athlete suffering from trauma on the field or a recent surgical procedure can benefit from the Myofasical Release technique especially.
The three most common problems an athlete faces are chronic soft tissue dysfunction, the entrapment of nerves and scar tissue buildup. At IMPACT Physical Therapy, athletic trainers and massage therapists work together to help improve each of these issues through effective, targeted and beneficial massage therapy techniques and best practices. Complete with a superstar staff and state-of-the-art facility, we offer massage services to athletes in Chicago. New patients can either request a screening online, or call the office at 312-877-5101. At the IMPACT Physical Therapy, we truly believe that if you train like a pro, you should recover like a pro – which is exactly why athletes should try out our massage services as soon as possible!