Massage can be used for the general relaxation of the musculo-skeletal system as well as being directed into local problem areas, thereby improving recovery and ensuring it happens thoroughly.
All sporting activities involve muscle activity as the primary motive force, and most sporting injuries are mainly muscle injuries or originate from muscle dysfunction.
Massage has the advantage in that it can be used on a regular basis to help prevent overuse injuries so the athlete can maintain high levels of performance without getting injured, as well as being used to treat specific injury symptoms.
Quality & Quantity of Training - After periods of hard training or performance, massage will help by stimulating the blood circulation through the body helping to remove any waste materials, repair any possible signs of micro-trauma and provide the muscles with their nutritional needs. Massage can also be helpful in improving the quality and effectiveness of rest periods needed after hard exercise.
Possible Over-Use Injuries - 'Over-use injury' is the most common injury in sports and can happen over a period of time - sometimes with the problem not being known about until it reaches a critical level. With massage, these areas may be made apparent so early treatment can prevent this from becoming a future problem.
Training Advice - As well as dealing directly with the potential problem, massage can also identify the possibility of a fault in training, which could be causing over-use. Maybe certain muscles are being over worked too much or not being stretched enough? - this can be identified with regular massage and advised upon.
Self-Awareness - Any possible injury symptoms may be felt during massage by not only the therapist but by the client too. They may not have been aware of any problem until pressure during the massage was applied. This helps provide awareness and they can act upon it.
Flexibility - With most sports activities requiring good flexibility, functional stretching exercises should always be performed, not only to promote mobility but also to release excessive tension, fibrosis or scarring in the muscle tissue. Massage techniques can help stretch specific areas of tissue. Friction and deep stroking techniques can be applied directly to help break down scar tissue and adhesions.
Pre and Post Event Massage - Helping an athlete prepare for, and recover from an event is an important part of sports massage and should be individual to each athlete and their specific sporting activity.