The History of Sports Massage
Sports Massage, originated in Greece and Rome, and has a history of thousands of years (Cenacle Treatment Centre). Galen (AD 30-200), a renowned Roman physician, "prescribed massage for gladiators both before and after exercising" (Cenacle Treatment Centre). This can be one of the earliest record of sports massage.
The modern history of Sports Massage can be dated back to the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris (Crist Chiropractic & Wellness, 2011). Paavo Nurmi from Finland won five gold medals in the Olympic running competition. He gave much credit for his win to the massage that he received from his personal massage therapist on a regular basis (Crist Chiropractic & Wellness, 2011).
Massage was widely performed by trainers at colleges and amateur athletic events in the early 20th century (Benjamin & Tappan, 2004, p. 30). Influenced by European athletes' successful use of massage in their training, American athletes began to employ massage to improve their performance (Benjamin & Tappan, 2004, p. 30). In 1986, the American Massage Therapy Association launched a National Sports Massage Team to promote massage for athletes (Benjamin & Tappan, 2004, p. 30). In 1996, sports massage therapist was included as part of the official medical team at the Atlanta Olympics. Sports massage has become a regular part of the Olympics (Benjamin & Tappan, 2004, p. 30).
Sports massage has now become a specialty among massage therapists. It's gained popularity among both amateur and professional athletes (Benjamin & Tappan, 2004, p. 30).
What Is Sports Massage?
Sports Massage is a type of massage therapy that deals with the needs of people who are involved in athletic activities (University Sports Massage). It uses "many Swedish, Deep Tissue and stretching techniques" to improve athletic performance and recovery (Alternative Health Business; UF Department of Recreational Sports).
Vincent Cambrea is a sports massage instructor at Florida School of Massage, Gainesville, Florida, since 2003. He is experienced in functional anatomy, orthopedic massage and exercise training. He is also the co-founder of the Go Primal Fitness and Training Institute and owns a successful business. In this video he introduces sports massage:
Sports Massage is used to improve athletic performance by addressing both physiological and psychological conditions, for example, dysfunctional muscles, soft tissue injury, body swelling, high heart rate, high blood pressure, restrictive range of motion, pain, fatigue, anxiety and injuries or injury prevention (University Sports Massage; Mamas Health).
Specifically, Sports Massage can be useful to an athlete in the follwing three contexts: pre-event, post-event, and injury treatment (UF Department of Recreational Sports). In pre-event conditions, it helps to "establish blood flow and to warm up muscles", thus can reduce possible injuries (UF Department of Recreational Sports; Massage Heights). In post-event conditions, it serves to "calm the nervous system", recover the muscle tissues that may have been influenced during sports activities and assist the body in getting ride of toxins and waste products (UF Department of Recreational Sports; Massage Heights). This type of massage also works effectively to reduce recovery time thus helping atheletes resume training sooner (UF Department of Recreational Sports).