August 5th 2016 marks the beginning of the Summer Olympics. Thousands of athletes from around the world will march in the opening ceremony. On the sidelines and in the gyms, you will find doctors, athletic trainers, and physical therapists ready to assist. You will also find many qualified, skilled massage therapists, ready to provide sports massage, a type of specialized bodywork tailored to the specific needs of athletes.
Sports Massage at the Olympics
Sports massage gained momentum in the 1970’s when Olympian Lasse Viren (a.k.a. “The Flying Finn”) credited his back-to-back Olympic Gold Medals to the sports massage he received between training sessions. While there are many subtypes of sports massage, the basic protocols target specific muscle groups, utilize specialized strokes, and incorporate stretching and range-of-motion exercises. The ultimate goal for sports massage is peak performance and the avoidance or reduction of injuries.
Uniquely, sports massage is segmented into pre- and/or post-event sessions (each lasting 10-30 thirty minutes). Pre-event massage prepares an athlete to compete. It warms up the muscles, stimulates the nervous system, and increases blood flow to targeted areas. Friction, vigorous compression, and tapotement are common massage strokes utilized in pre-event massage. Post-event massage, performed after the event and a cool down, soothes the athlete’s muscles and calms the central nervous system. Gentle compression, effleurage, and stretching are effective bodywork techniques frequently utilized in post-event massage to aid in an athlete’s recovery.
Whether you’re an Olympian, an aspiring Olympian, a professional, or an amateur weekend warrior, you could benefit from sports massage. If you or someone you know is looking for professional sports massage in Central Florida, ask your Take 5 Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT) for advice or for a potential referral.