According to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) website, massage can help “improve performance, reduce pain, prevent injury, encourage focus and shorten recovery time.”
Considering those kind of results, it’s no surprise that many professional athletes count on massage therapists to keep them in peak condition and performance ready.
Sports massage isn’t new. In fact, the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) states that Chinese writings dating back thousands of years describe the use of massage therapy to treat injuries.
NBA stars and legends such as Grant Hill, Steve Nash, and Kobe Bryant, have all used sports massage as a means to stay healthy on and off the court. World Series champs, the 2005 Chicago White Sox, relied heavily on the team’s massage therapist to experience peak performance. Most NFL teams also have a massage therapist on staff. And according to Forbes, James Harrison, the famed Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker, spends around half a million dollars per year on bodywork, which includes massage therapy.
Massage therapists who focus on sports massage use massage techniques to help athletes recover from strain or injury, to help them prepare for competition, and to enhance performance, among other things.
Research studies conducted by scientists from the Buck Institute for Research on Aging at McMaster University in Ontario, show that massage reduces inflammation and promotes the growth of new mitochondria, meaning that sports massage reduces pain, and builds and repairs muscles.
Sports massage can also reduce stress and anxiety, which according to the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, can heavily impact performance: “Therefore, the psychological effect provided to an athlete by an experience such as massage may be of importance in a non-physiological manner.”
According to AMTA, research shows that massage can:
- Reduce muscle tension
- Help athletes monitor muscle tone
- Promote relaxation
- Increase range of motion
- Decrease muscle stiffness and soreness after exercise
- Enhance athletic performance
- Help prevent injuries when massage is received regularly
Does sports massage sound like a career you might be interested in? Massage therapists like John G. Louis and Joana Brown have extensive experience working with athletes and offer a wealth of advice for those seeking a career in sports massage.