Sports Massage: Focusing on The Task At Hand
There are many theories as to why athletes seem to have improved performances and faster recovery times after receiving massage. Unfortunately we’re still lacking in evidence. Nobody really knows the physical mechanisms that occur when we lay hands on an athlete. Are we improving their circulation, allowing for more oxygen-rich blood chock full of nutrients to reach starved muscles? Are we reducing edema and thereby speeding up recovery following an injury? Are we, with the use of proper stretching, resetting the muscles to their correct lengths for proper functioning?
We’ll give you a solid maybe on all of those.
We’d like to propose that those may not even be the most important things that sports massage can accomplish.
We’d like to propose, in fact, that the mental stimulation given to athletes pre-event can be monumentally more profound than any actual compressions or stretches.
Sound a little new age-y to you? Well, we’ll give you a solid maybe on that, too.
But consider this, during your activities of daily living, when do you perform your best? Let’s use your commute to work as an example. You’re in your car, stuck in traffic, and you need to be at work ten minutes ago. The left lane is going to end soon, and everyone knows that, but for some reason people keep zipping past you, like they didn’t know two miles ago this lane was going to end, like they don’t know what taking cuts means. You’re listening to the news, and it’s not good news, it’s never good news. You could have made that light, but someone on a bicycle cut you off, even though bicycles are vehicles and need to obey all the same laws as you do. And now you’re not in time for the early-bird parking so it’s going to cost you an extra ten bucks just to go to work. You’re already worked up into an angry frothy lather and you haven’t even gotten to your desk yet. Do you think you’re going to be performing at your peak the rest of the morning? Or will you be dwelling on all the insignificant incidences that got in the way of your commute?
Now consider this alternate commute option. What if you had your morning cup of coffee, said goodbye to your loved ones, walked out your front door, and then stepped into a helicopter that would fly you over top of all the traffic? What if the entire ride (which would be considerably shorter than driving, of course) you didn’t listen to the depressing news, but the pilot had just received his copy of Eighties Power Ballads, and you blared that the entire flight? You could see the congestion below, but it no longer affects you, and you find yourself smiling at the banality of it all. You arrive at work with a skip in your step and a song in your heart. Won’t you be more productive if you arrive to work that way?
We don’t offer this as an actual alternative to your morning commute (although, how rad would that be?). We offer this as a metaphor. We believe a pre-event sports massage can be that helicopter ride. Many athletes will tell you that “being in the zone” is just as important, if not more important, than being physically ready for an event. If you’re busy worrying about the economy or some little argument you had with your wife that morning, then your head is not in the game and it will affect your performance. But if you can push all of that nonsense out of your thoughts, if you can concentrate on the task at hand, and if not only are you thinking you’re a big winner but you have a therapist who is telling you that you are a big winner, then that’s going to make a huge impact on your performance.
Sports massage, at its essence, is a way for athletes to reconnect with their bodies, to put aside all other worries, and simply focus on being their best. Whether any actual physical benefits come from massage is yet to be proven (but it will be proven), but it is very clear to anyone who has ever played a sport, run a race, or even just played darts in a bar, that if your mind is distracted, you will not be as competitive. Sports massage is a wonderful way to bring your focus back to the task at hand.