Massage and Sports Performance

09 Nov 2016, Posted by Dougie in Blog Articles


For many years athletes, coaches, trainers, sports psychologists etc, have all sworn by massage therapy; it is now more common than not for sporting teams – both professional and amateur – to have a massage therapist on the payroll continuously. I was fortunate enough to have traveled with a team internationally earlier this year, as their dedicated massage therapist and was able to witness the benefits of massage therapy with regards to performance first hand in a competition environment.

Massage acts to improve performance, reduce pain, prevent injury, encourage focus and reduce recovery time and basically involves a mechanical response as a result of the pressure and movement, plus a reflex response where the nerves respond to the stimulation of a massage.

Physiologically, massage affects the cardiovascular system through dilation of the blood vessels which helps them work more efficiently to promote circulation. The better known benefits of massage are to the muscular system as massage aids in enhancing the blood circulation helping to relieve muscular tension, reduce soreness and make for a faster recovery – all important for optimum importance.

Psychologically, massage aids in reducing stress + tension and anxiety while promoting relaxation by activating your parasympathetic nervous system – massage increases your dopamine & serotonin levels (‘feel good’ hormones) and reduces cortisol levels (‘stress’ hormone), thereby improving focus – highly important for performance!

So when should you schedule a massage? I’ll keep it simple. Firstly be proactive as opposed to reactive to seek massage treatment, meaning don’t wait until something is ‘wrong’ before getting treatment; prevention is always better than cure – particularly where sports performance lies. But how often? It’s cumulative – the more your train, the more often you should schedule a massage treatment, particularly leading up to an event so that your performance is at its best on the day. And never forget to schedule a massage treatment in the days post event as part of your recovery.

I trust this post has provided you with some practical knowledge regarding massage and performance. Please feel free to contact me should you need to implement massage to your training program to optimise performance.