Can Massage Improve Athletic Performance?

improveperformResearch suggests that massage has both physiological and emotional benefits both before and after the event which help you have stronger, better, faster athletic performance.

Athletes routinely prepare both physically and mentally prior to an event. Typically they incorporate static and dynamic stretching, warm-up drills and mental imagery. A pre-event massage has been suggested as a strategy to decrease pre-competition anxiety and prepare muscles.

If muscle prep is the goal, pre-event sports massage, performed by qualified massage therapists, works well for many. Sports massage is a more vigorous type of massage that includes a combination of techniques such as joint mobilization, stretching, post isometric relaxation, cross-fiber friction and trigger point massage. The goal of the session is to invigorate muscle tissue and stimulate (not relax) muscles to get ready for fast-twitch response, improve flexibility, and increase strength. This massage typically happens within 72 hours of the event.

If the goal is mental preparation, a pre-performance massage consisting of various effleurage, petrissage and friction techniques, often with an emphasis on the upper torso, can have significant impact on your mood and readiness for the event. Anxiety levels are lowered and athletes often report a feeling of being more prepared and comfortable with their goals. Generally this massage happens 12 or more hours before the event.

“Pre-event massage is a valid strategy to decrease pre-competition anxiety and prepare the muscles for competition.” Galloway, Clin J Sports Med, 2006

There are many studies suggesting massage helps in recovery after the event or competition. Post-race massage is common (SVMTG is on site at many of the Bay Area events) and usually takes place within 72 hours of the event. With the specific goal of soothing sore muscles and managing stiffness and lack of flexibility, recovery massage is a must-have for most professional athletes. The massages work by increasing blood flow to sore muscles, speeding the dissipation of lactic acid and decreasing delayed onset muscle soreness.

Add massage to your pre- or post competition prep, you’ll see a difference!