Massage Therapy for Athletes
by Karen Schroeder Kassel, MS, RD, MEd
Massage has become an big part of training for many athletes. Two benefits are more flexibility and reduced pain. And, after a hard day's workout, massage can also help you relax. Here are some methods that are used:
Part of Overall Training
Massage is best when it is part of an athlete's total training program, which includes a healthful diet, hydration, stretching, and well-designed workouts. Getting a massage once and a while or after an event like a marathon does not have much benefit. Light exercise like walking or jogging are best to help speed recovery after an event.
Do Not Touch
A massage may not be right if a person has:
Recent injury —Wait until swelling has gone down and bad bruises have healed before getting a massage.
Bloodflow problems —People with phlebitis or other bloodflow problems have fragile veins that can be damaged by massage.
Skin problems —People with open wounds or skin problems that spread easily should wait until they are fully healed before getting a massage.
Bone injury —Athletes with bone or joint trauma should not have massage therapy.
Other conditions —Athletes with infectious diseases and other problems may need a gentler form of massage or may not be able to tolerate treatment at all. They should check with their doctors first.
Deciding to Get Massage Therapy
From soothing tired muscles to calming an overworked mind, massage can be a useful addition to any athlete's training.
Here are some things to think about:
You now have the knowledge to book an appointment and make massage therapy a part of your overall training plan.
American Massage Therapy Association
National Center for Complimentary and Integrative Health
The benefits of massage therapy. Freemont College website. Available at: https://fremont.edu/the-benefits-of-massage-therapy. Accessed June 30, 2021.
Contraindications of massage. Sports Injury Clinic website. Available at: https://www.sportsinjuryclinic.net/rehabilitation-exercises/sports-massage-contraindications. Accessed June 30, 2021.
Massage. EBSCO Natural and Alternative Treatments website. Available at:
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Accessed June 30, 2021.
Massage therapy: What you need to know. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine website. Available at: https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/massage-therapy-what-you-need-to-know. Accessed June 30, 2021.
Last reviewed June 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board
Last Updated: 6/30/2021
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