Does Sports Massage Improve Performance?
Posted 11/11/2016 by UHBlog
If you think getting a sports massage is a once-in-awhile luxury, you may miss the opportunity to excel in your sport.
“Sports massage does have a place in your workout,” says sports medicine specialist Robert Flannery, MD, one of the University Hospitals team physicians supporting the Cleveland Browns. “It helps you recover faster, especially from delayed onset muscle soreness. The more blood flow you get to tight and tortured muscles, this will help you recover faster, so you can perform better sooner at your sport.”
With the Cleveland Browns football players, many of them receive pre-, post- and during-event sports massage applications to eliminate and prevent soreness and cramping.
“The professional athletes know their bodies and get massages when they need them,” Dr. Flannery says. “That’s their job. They need to be ready to perform when needed.”
You don’t have to be part of a pro or college athletic team to benefit from regular massage. As part of your workout and self-care routine, sports massages keep your muscles happy by:
- Eliminating trigger points and muscle spasms
- Increasing flexibility and range of motion
- Delaying muscle soreness from lactate acid build-up
- Relieving sports-related injuries
- Boosting endorphins – much like exercise does – which helps to reduce stress and pain management
Sports massage differs from other types of massages in that it’s tailored to meet the needs and demands of the sport on specific muscle groups. For example, marathoners who get a post-event massage immediately after the race have less muscle soreness in their legs. Sports massages are given by licensed massage therapists (LMT), who stretch the muscles using deeper pressure, especially when the massage is done post-event.
Like exercise, sports massage needs to be done regularly to be most effective. Depending on your sport or exercise routine and intensity, most LMTs recommend massages be done twice a month at minimum, and one to two times a week if you’re on a sports massage routine.
“With massage, there’s little drawback to doing it too often,” Dr. Flannery says. “The frequency is individualized and depends on event timing, exercise intensity and your budget.”
If you’ve injured yourself playing sports, your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist. Sports massage is one of the modalities the physical therapist may use to help you heal. Currently, three University Hospitals rehab locations have sports massage therapists on staff who include:
- Becky Cvelbar, PTA, LMT, at University Hospitals Mentor Health Center in Mentor, Ohio
- Suzanne Hollo, PTA, LMT, at University Hospitals Elyria Medical Center in North Ridgeville, Ohio and
- Anne Kirk, PTA, at University Hospitals Samaritan Rehabilitation Services in Ashland, Ohio
You can also contact any of the sports massage therapists without a doctor’s prescription. To access their care, call 216-286-REHAB (7342).
Robert Flannery, MD is a sports medicine specialist at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center and a medical team physician for the Cleveland Browns. You can request an appointment with Dr. Flannery or any other doctor online.