What are we trying to achieve with SPORTS MASSAGE? There are many sports massage benefits, but one of the MOST IMPORTANT benefits is an increase in blood circulation.
Research suggests that some sports massage could provide the following benefits[i]:
- increase blood flow by increasing the arteriolar pressure
- increase muscle compliance
- increase range of joint motion
- decrease active and passive muscle stiffness
- increase muscle temperature from rubbing
- induce a relaxation response (physiological mechanisms)
- reduce anxiety
- improve mood state
- enhance performance
- reduce injury risk
Ischemic Compression in Sports Massage
Ischemic compression is a proven stationary massage technique, commonly used in CPR during cardiac arrest to manually increase an individual’s blood circulation.
Ischemic compression can be defined as: manual, repetitive, stationary pressing over one area with one compression. The practitioner presses and releases on soft tissue.
The practitioner can then stay in the same place and repeat over and over, or the practitioner can travel to different areas with this same compress and release, ischemic compression technique.
Ischemic compression requires multiple compressions to increase blood circulation. Compressing once is not adequate to increase circulation.
In sports massage, we can use ischemic compression throughout the body over muscular soft tissues. Sports massage ischemic compression aids and increases overall blood circulation.
Sports massage practitioners should be LESS aggressive in their manual techniques in any area of injury, regardless of the athlete who is on the table. Pressing and manipulating soft tissues injuries, including sprains and strains, will usually cause greater damage and additional swelling which will adversely affect athletic performance.
As a sports massage therapist, you can perform any legitimate type of bodywork that helps the athlete and enhances their athletic performance. Some bodywork techniques are more commonly accepted as “sports massage”, but sports work is really about serving the athlete to the best of your licensed capabilities.
To learn sports massage practice, please visit and register for training at: https://ceinstitute.com/collections/sports
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[i] Weerapong, P., Hume, P.A. & Kolt, G.S. The Mechanisms of Massage and Effects on Performance, Muscle Recovery and Injury Prevention. Sports Med 35, 235–256 (2005). https://doi.org/10.2165/00007256-200535030-00004