It’s so easy to count it out, but recovery is an important step of any training program. It doesn’t matter if you’re new to the gym or getting ready to run your next marathon. Any kind of exercise puts your body through wear and tear, so you want to give your muscles and tendons the opportunity to properly repair. This is why many active people opt for a form of massage therapy called a sports massage. But what is a sports massage, exactly?
It’s not like the one you’d typically receive at the spa. Instead, a sports massage is a treatment aimed at preventing injuries and keeping you in tip-top shape. Here, you’ll find a list of the top benefits of sports massage, plus pro tips to know before you book your first appointment.
The first thing to know is that you can get one any time, but they can be especially beneficial before or after a big race or athletic event. While techniques used in a sports massage may sometimes seem similar to those used during a deep-tissue massage, the two have different end goals, says Beret Kirkeby, owner of Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage.
“For comparison sake, if you were offered a sports massage vs. a deep-tissue, the sports massage would probably take your [physical] activities into account and try to tailor the treatment to fit both the time and kind of activity, whereas a deep-tissue massage would be more about pressure and general lifestyle.”
Not to say you won’t feel pressure during a sports massage. While sports massages aren’t typically supposed to hurt, you may experience some tenderness and discomfort, especially if your massage therapist is working on an area that’s already injured, sore, or tight, says Kirkeby.
Now that you’ve got the basics, keep reading to learn more about sports massages from a licensed massage therapist.
Vet any potential sports massage therapist carefully.
Timing is everything.
READ MORE: Here’s Why Treating Yourself To A Massage Is So Good For You
It’s typical for your massage therapist to ask you a few questions before your first session.
Make sure you’re well-hydrated before your massage.
Avoid certain medications before your sports massage.
But if you have an ongoing condition that requires medication, be sure to talk to your massage therapist about it. “For most medications, simply knowing that you are on them allows the therapist to modify the treatment to protect your safety and health,” says Kirkeby.
Your appointment will likely involve more than a massage.
Sports massages can help you become more flexible.
But they don’t help you get rid of lactic acid buildup.
That said, a sports massage can help alleviate pain.
Plus, a sports massage can help you heal from or prevent an injury.
You’ll probably sleep better after a sports massage too.
Just know that it’s normal to feel a little tender after a sports massage.
A sports massage can help you manage your race or game day jitters.
Sports massages can help women deal with hormonal changes.
Technically, you can work out the same day you get a sports massage, but it’s not recommended.
“I would highly recommend maximizing your rest days and times. Recovery is just as important as training,” says Kirkeby. It’s important to give your body enough time to properly repair itself and experience the benefits of your sports massage.
This article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com