There are 3 types of sports massage. They include pre-event, post-event and training.
- Pre-event – is a specialized massage that is performed on an athlete just prior to their sports event. The intent of the pre-event massage is to stimulate circulation, calm nervous tension, and prepare the athlete for optimal performance while reducing the chance of injury. Pre -event massage utilizes vigorous stroke applications using mild pressure. Shaking, jostling and vibrations are also used to wake up muscles and to stimulate the nervous tissue. Quick, alternating flushing effleurage strokes are also used. Generally, stretching is not performed.
- Post-event – as the name implies is performed after a sports event. This treatment is similar to training massage except that less pressure is used and the speed of application is a lot slower. The intention of this massage is to increase blood and lymphatic circulation for the purpose of removing metabolic waste product such as lactic acid, therefore speeding up the recovery process. Light to moderate stretching is also applied during a post-event massage treatment. If muscle spasming or cramping is encountered, a technique of alternating moderate to deep compressions and stretching is applied.
- Training Massage – a training massage is just like any regular massage in which the bodyworker may employ any and all tools they possess in order to provide what the athlete requires. It is the training massage that ultimately prepares the athletes musculo-skeletal system for optimum performance. The athletes training schedule should be taken into consideration when planning on more aggressive treatment modalities such as deep MFR, and ice should be used to decrease inflammation post treatment.
Pre-event Post-event Training
Pressure light light – moderate moderate – deep
Speed vigorous slow slow – moderate
Stokes vibrations, flushing flushing, compressions stripping, NMT, MFR
Stretching No Yes – light Yes – aggressive
Hydro No Yes – ice Yes – ice &/or heat
Note: This guideline assumes that the athlete is of elite status and receives regular massage treatment. In a pre or post event situation the therapist may encounter muscle knots, trigger points, etc, and may therefore apply the necessary tools to assist the athlete. But if the depth and length of application is too aggressive, it will hinder and may injure the athlete in a pre or post-event situation.