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Benefits of Massage Therapy for Athletes

Updated at: Sep 13, 2011
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Written by: Tilottama ChatterjeePublished at: May 27, 2011
Benefits of Massage Therapy for Athletes

Massage Therapy- Athletes are now taking recourse to massage therapy to overcome injury.

In the world of sports and fitness, competition is increasing at a tremendous rate, and the necessity for athletes to keep in top form is no longer an option.Massage therapycan provide an extra edge to athletes participating in high performance sports. People specializing in these areas, from sports medicine clinics to Olympic trainers are beginning to realise that a complete workout routine has to integrate the care of wear and tear and minor injuries that naturally occur with strenuous muscle movement.

Athletes routinely stretch their physical limits through movements such as running, cycling, swimming, racquet sports etc. Incorporating massage therapy in their conditioning programme will benefit them in the following ways :


  • It will help them get into good shape faster and with less soreness and stiffness
  • It will help in faster recovery from heavy workouts
  • It will relieve conditions which may cause injury
  • It will help reduce stress on muscles
  • It will improve circulation and get blood pumping throughout the body
  • It will speed healing
  • It will boost the immune system
  • It will alleviate muscle tenderness


There are four types of massages designed exclusively for athletes:


Pre – Event

To help prepare the body of an athlete before a sports event, a pre-event massage is used. It will target those muscle groups of the athlete which will be exerted most. The massage involves warming up tissues and major muscles. While the massage will take 10 to 15 minutes, it’s effect will last up to four hours.


Post – Event

Within one to two hours of an event or training, an athlete will receive a post-event massage. This type of massage will help the body recover from performance, and will prevent spasms from muscle fatigue. It will also help the body’s tissues to return to normal size and relax the mind and bring it to a calm state. A post-event massage will last between 15 and 90 minutes.



A maintenance massage helps the athlete to boost performance. It will target specific muscle groups  and tissues and will help him / her to improve flexibility. This type of massage will not only reduce injury, but also help identify the early stages of an injury, thereby preventing further damage.



Although a maintenance massage is designed to prevent injuries, there will still be wear and tear of muscles, and they will bruise and cramp and ache. A rehabilitative massage will take care of these issues. It will help the body heal quickly, improve range of motion and alleviate pain from injury. Moreover, this type of massage will strengthen muscle and help break up scar tissue at the site of injury.

Depending on the sport, the massage needs of athletes sometimes are very specific. The muscles and tissues that will do the maximum work will be determined by the kind of sport an athlete plays or takes part in. For these reasons there are specific massage techniques, to suit different needs. A deep tissue massage will apply deep pressure to the underlying muscles using a series of massage techniques. The compression massage will use rhythmic compressions into the muscle to increase blood flow and soften specific tissue areas. The trigger point reduces muscle spasms by positioning the thumb in a certain position. The lymphatic massage will move accumulated fluids, which can cause swelling, from the body’s tissues through the lymphatic system.


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