As parents, we assume our young athletes are strong, fit and healthy. For the most part, they are, but athletics of any kind can be tough on the body. Many professional athletes swear by sports massage. Could your young athlete also benefit from massage therapy?
How Sports Massage Therapy May Benefit Young Athletes
It’s not uncommon for children to be involved in multiple sports. While it’s great for kids to be so active, there’s also a greater chance of injury. Even without injuries, all of that physical activity can take a toll on the body over time.
Sports massage can benefit young, developing athletes in many ways.
According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, over 3.5 million children aged 14 and younger are treated for sports-related injuries each year. Children between the ages of 5 and 14 account for about 40% of all sports-related injuries treated in hospitals and emergency rooms.
The majority of sports-related injuries happen during practice.
The most common injuries include:
- Strains and sprains
- Bone and growth plate injuries
- Repetitive motion injuries
- Heat-related illnesses
Tight muscles are more prone to injury, especially when engaging in physical activity. That’s why it’s common protocol to stretch before running or playing sports.
Loose muscles are more flexible and maintain a greater range of motion.
Massage therapy works to keep muscles relaxed and flexible, reducing the risk of injury and loss of mobility in key areas like the knees and lower back.
Most of us adults get massages to help us relax and ease tension. That reduction in tension benefits young athletes (and you, too!) by making muscles looser and more flexible. Increased blood flow to the muscles is what helps to ease tension.
Sports massage is quite different from traditional massage in that the focus is on key areas that are troublesome for athletes. And the goal, along with keeping the body healthy, is to also improve performance.
How effective is sports massage at improving performance? Over at the Massaggi in London, therapist Ben Pianese treated 50 athletes, which were split into two groups. Half received the Emmett Sports Massage treatments, while the other half received traditional sports massage treatments.
The Emmett Sports Massage technique improved muscle elasticity by 70%, whereas the traditional sports massage delivered a 10% improvement.
Emmett Sports Massage focuses on specific points in the body to re-balance and “re-set” it. The end result is better elasticity, flexibility and fluidity in movement.
Even with preventative measures, injuries can and still do happen. When, or if, they do, sports massage can help speed up recovery.
Massage boosts blood flow to injured areas of the body, which delivers vital nutrients and facilitates the healing process.
Along with all of these benefits, massage can also help your child sleep better, stay focused and feel less stressed. Athletes deal with a lot of pressure from their peers, coaches and parents. The relaxing, calming effects of massage therapy can help ease the stress and anxiety many young athletes face today.