One of the greatest athletes of the modern era, Serena Williams, hit the headlines recently when she retired at 40, having spent over 27 years competing at the very highest levels of tennis.
It’s a fantastic achievement, but have you ever wondered how these superstars keep their bodies working in peak condition?
Athletes of this caliber must make extraordinary sacrifices to stay in top form. While it’s not realistic for us to try and mimic their training regime, we can learn something from their approach.
Take sports massage therapy, for example. Top athletes use this to maximize their training sessions and keep their bodies in perfect condition.
But what is sports massage therapy, and will it benefit you? Continue reading as we debunk some popular myths about this fantastic sports treatment.
In the past, have you skimmed past the sports massage section in a service catalog? Perhaps you headed to the aromatherapy and deep tissue massages instead. Is this from a deeply held assumption that the sports massage section is for men’s bodies only?
Let’s throw away that myth and share the reality of sports massage. Hint: a sports massage is for men and women!
Women’s and men’s bodies are different. Still, a trained massage therapist specializing in sports treatment will understand how to work with all body types.
Men and women have similar risks of injuries and strains when exercising, and both can benefit from a professional sports massage. So don’t skip that section of a service sheet - if a sports massage sounds like the proper treatment for you, it probably is!
Sure, some of us love a firm massage that gets into those deep knots. But not all of us love that sort of pressure that - let’s face it - can make you wince from time to time or leave you feeling achy the next day.
But a painful sports massage is a myth that’s overdue for debunking.
A sports massage is like any other massage in that you can choose the level of pressure you find comfortable. A sports massage doesn’t have to feel painful at the time or the next day to impact your body profoundly.
A professional therapist with an excellent reputation will always do a great job helping your body without putting you in pain to achieve it.
If you have a low pain threshold, speak to the therapist at the start of the treatment so they can adjust the pressure or add some stretches. You will also find that they will ask you during the massage whether you are comfortable.
So they can adjust the massage firmness to ensure you get the best experience and results suitable for your body and your needs.
You aren’t planning to enter the Olympics any time soon. A couple of sessions on the treadmill plus a yoga class is the limit of your weekly exercise routine!
So surely you don’t need a massage designed for professional sports people, right? Well, it’s a common myth that sports massage is only for serious athletes. Let’s take a look at the reality.
It’s easy to see why people assume a sports massage is for serious athletes - the word sport in the title does give that impression. But this is far from reality.
Sure, professional athletes can and do benefit from a sports massage. But so do the rest of us.
If you are doing any time of activity during the week - even low-intensity exercise routines - you’ll feel the benefit of a regular sports massage on your body. It will ease those aches and pains.
In addition, a sports massage will have added benefits if you have a sedentary lifestyle or a desk-based job. It will help alleviate the pains and strains you get in your neck and back from sitting at a screen for eight hours a day.
Do you consider massages a luxury for a special occasion? Perhaps you treat yourself when staying in a hotel or wait for someone to treat you with a massage gift on your birthday.
If that’s the case, you probably assume that a sports massage is a one-off treatment, perhaps to troubleshoot a particular pain or to help your body feel better.
Let’s tackle this common myth that sports massage is a one-off treatment.
Assuming a single sports massage will have the impact you want is a bit like taking one yoga class and expecting to become more flexible! In truth, our bodies need slow, repetitive work to improve strength, flexibility, and condition.
Whatever your motivation for booking a sports massage, you will likely need a group of treatments instead of one ad-hoc massage. That is the best way you can get the improvement your body needs.
Those sports massage therapy benefits - over a prolonged period - also include enhancements to the strength and mass of your muscles to help you perform better in your chosen sport (often known as “muscle memory”).
Here’s a rather strange myth that could even come under the category of conspiracy theories. But surprising as it sounds, some people worry that a sports massage could encourage cancer cell growth in the body.
We are pleased to say that’s a complete myth, but let’s elaborate on why this is false.
It’s impossible to manipulate cancer physically and actively spread it or expand it if cancer cells exist in your body. Sports massage operates at the skin and muscle level and is a perfectly safe treatment.
It also uses non-toxic oils that have a long safety record. So don’t worry. Your body is perfectly safe whenever you have a massage.
That’s why massages have been a proven health treatment for hundreds or even thousands of years! Some cancer patients even use massage as a supportive therapy during chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
Admittedly, a sports massage isn’t like a hair appointment, and you probably won’t want to have an in-depth conversation during the massage about your upcoming vacation.
And you’ll have a sensation of quiet calm when you enter a therapy room, perhaps with the gentle sounds of running water or spa music. But is it true that you must stay silent throughout the treatment? Let’s take a look at the facts.
The therapist will want to ensure you are relaxed and concentrating on your breathing as they manipulate your muscles, and that’s why you’ll often experience silence during treatment.
But don’t mistake that for a rule of silence or assume it means the therapist will lose concentration as you speak.
On the contrary, the therapist wants you to feel comfortable communicating with them during the treatment, which will help you get more from your massage.
So if you experience pain or discomfort, or want a change of pressure, speak up. It’s welcome and appreciated.
The dehydration myth has evolved because therapists commonly ask you to drink water at the end of treatment. So is that proof that a massage will leave you dehydrated? And could that be dangerous?
The answers to both questions are a firm no. Let’s explain what is happening here and why you’ll get a cup of water.
The dictionary definition of dehydration is a harmful drop of fluids in your body. That is a dangerous situation that you might see as a warning for the elderly on a scorching day.
But dehydration isn’t a risk for most of us, providing you drink a reasonable amount of water daily. And a sports massage will not put you at risk.
You might feel thirsty after a massage, but that’s because you’ve laid in a warm room and haven’t had a drink during the treatment.
So take sips from the water given to you by the therapist, but don’t worry about any severe hydration issues.
We would love this cellulite myth to be true! It would be fun to transform the appearance and tone of your skin after a massage treatment. Sadly, this one is provably false. Let’s explain what you should expect after treatment instead.
Cellulite is fatty deposits that sit close to the skin’s surface, leaving a distinct, dimpled appearance to your body, often on arms, legs, or buttocks.
Massage won’t change any fat levels stored in your fat cells. The only way to do that successfully is via diet and exercise. Even then, some people are more prone to cellulite than others, even when they successfully maintain a healthy weight.
However, a sports massage will help repair and soothe your muscles, which in turn will help you maintain your exercise regime. So from that angle, it’s a worthwhile endeavor as it will help you meet your long-term fitness goals.
When you see a sports massage listed as a service, do you consider shopping around for other types of sports massage? Or do you assume one sports massage is the same as everything else on the market?
Well, surprisingly, many people believe that all sports massages are identical. Let’s examine that assumption and see if it’s true.
You wouldn’t assume every personal trainer or piano teacher is the same, so why believe that with a sports massage?
The truth is that sports massage therapy is a trained skill, and when someone learns how to do that, they may develop different approaches and techniques.
It’s not one-size-fits-all, so always talk to the therapist if your sports massage isn’t quite meeting your expectations. It may be that they can try a different technique on you that will improve the sports massage at your next session.
Perhaps the price of a sports massage puts you off the idea of including it as part of your fitness investment.
But is a sports massage something only CEOs, royalty, and Hollywood celebrities can afford? The answer might surprise you.
Sports massage varies considerably in price. At the top end of the scale, you have massages from hotels and spas. That’s why many assume it’s too pricey for their budget.
However, away from the luxury hotels and spas, you might be surprised at how affordable it is. For more proof, look at our specialist sports massage therapy services.
Remember, too, that sports massage is a benefit. It will help repair and soothe your body and help you keep up your fitness regime.
Suppose you have an injury that needs weeks of rest. In that case, that’s a considerable amount you’re probably spending on a gym membership or personal training from which you aren’t benefitting.
So always consider the cost of not paying for sports therapy.
Don’t let aches and pains become the norm in your quest to stay fit. A healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be like that, and you can stick to your fitness regime without the niggling injuries and strains that slow you down.
But to do that, consider making sports massage therapy a core part of your exercise program. Try this approach for one month and see the improvement for yourself!
Now you’ve read our sports massage therapy guide, are you ready to take your fitness to the next level? Why not book a fitness assessment with our team to help us provide you with a personalized sports massage therapy plan from our experts?