• Liz Jester

How Massage Therapy Can Help Recreational Athletes




LeBron James regularly sees a massage therapist to improve the jump in his jump shot. Soccer star Megan Rapinoe counts massage therapy as a crucial part of her recovery regimen to allow her muscles time to heal after a hard day of training or a tough game. And remember those round red marks on Michael Phelps? Professional athletes often work with massage therapists before, during and after training and competition.


While you may not be training for the Olympics or competing on a professional level, regular massage therapy can benefit your training and well-being.


While Training


It’s normal for new aches and pains to pop up when you start a new activity. More aches may present themselves as you work to increase your endurance and strength. Regular massage can help you stay ahead of issues that could slow down your training. Massage therapy keeps you in touch with how your body feels so you can adjust your training as needed and stay on track.


Before a Race or Game


Are you feeling anxious about a big upcoming race? A massage can help calm your nerves and has been proven to reduce anxiety and stress. Many athletes use massage before and after a competition to make sure they’re feeling relaxed, confident, self-possessed, and ready to conquer before, and then to aid in recovery after. After all, so much of what we do as athletes is a mental game. It makes sense to train your muscles and your brain, right?


Here’s the kicker, though: Like a tough workout, massage can sometimes leave you feeling sore or achy. And that’s totally normal. But this means that you don’t want to get a deep tissue massage the day before your first marathon.


It’s recommended that if you want to get a massage to feel on top of your mental game before a big competition, that you do so 3 to 5 days beforehand. This gives you time to “recover” after the massage and to be completely ready to compete mentally and physically.


To Aid in Recovery


If you’re a weekend warrior on the court or on the track, you’ve probably experienced delayed-onset muscle soreness. It’s that awful stiffness and pain you feel in the day or two after vigorous exercise.


Massage therapy can help reduce that stiffness and get you moving through your day faster and with less pain. Additionally, lymphatic drainage can help reduce lactic acid buildup, as well as swelling resulting from high impact sports or workouts, or soft tissue injuries.


For the Long Term


Generally, massage can help improve your performance as an athlete- even if you just do it to have fun or stay in shape. According to the American Massage Therapy Association, massage can help in exercise and athletic participation in so many ways, including the following:


● Reduce muscle tension and increase relaxation

● Monitor muscle tone and improve exercise performance

● Increase range of motion and improve soft tissue function

● Support recovery of heart rate and diastolic blood pressure after exercise

● Decrease muscle stiffness and fatigue

● Improved flexibility

● And even decrease the risk of injury when massage is regularly performed


Working with a qualified massage therapist can help you learn more about how your body works. You can prevent injury by making the muscles more pliable. And a massage therapist who knows what they’re doing will cater their massage techniques to the specific kind of work that you are doing in the gym or on the track, to keep the muscles you are using in tip-top shape.


Whether you’re training for a 10K, playing a rec league sport, or cycling every day, I can help. Contact me today, and let’s talk about how tailored and targeted massage sessions can make a difference in how you approach your favorite hobby. You can also book your next massage here.

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