Sports Massage Therapy Benefits Swimmers Pre and Post Event

May 21, 2010

Evelyn Davis Licensed Massage Therapist

Evelyn Davis Licensed Massage Therapist

Sports massage therapy for swimmers has both physical and psychological benefits. Serious competitors and recreational swimmers alike can improve their swimming performance with sports massage therapy designed specifically for the issues swimmers face.

Swim athletes worldwide now view regular massage as a necessary part of their training regimen. Sports massage therapy increases blood flow which reduces soreness and speeds recovery. Certain sports massage techniques, properly applied,  increase the range of motion of injured muscles and further accelerate the healing process. With a shorter time required for full recovery you can increase workouts and adapt your body to a higher level of physical stress.

For swimmers’ sports massages we prefer a combination of trigger point massage, myofascial release and Swedish massage methods aimed at the muscle groups and movements that swimmers use in order to swim fast.

swimmer sports massage therapy

Trigger point release of the infraspinatus muscle.

Most swimmers generally get tight in the areas underneath and behind the shoulder blades, with lots of tender trigger points. Swedish massage movements are best here to relieve the general tension in the muscles while the patient is lying on their side. Trigger points are released with careful pressure as they arise. In particular in swimmers, the infraspinatus muscle (see photo) often triggers and refers pain to the front of the shoulder, limiting the internal rotation which is needed for a good “catch”.

Another area of significant range-of-motion concern for swimmers is the myofascia located below the shoulder at the side and extending the length of the latissimus dorsai down to the lower back. Tightness in this long muscle and fascia group is a significant impediment for swimmers. For this area we use a myofascial release technique which stretches the muscle and fascia in a very targeted way.

Swimmers all seem to generate trigger points on the back between the spine and

top of shoulder trigger point release

Top of shoulder trigger point.

shoulder blade as well as on top of the shoulder closely adjacent to the neck. We find that relieving these irritations significantly improves relaxation, posture, and breathing.

Here are some thoughts about how massage could be incorporated into your swimming regimen:

Pre-swim meet: Use a sports massage to aid in warming up your muscles before training or an event. A sports massage can help stretch the muscles as well as stimulating blood flow and relaxation. By having the muscles well stretched and relaxed it can help prevent sports injuries. Massages can provide benefits even if performed up to two days before an event.  And it’ll relax you – a competitive edge!

Post-swim meet: Utilize a sports massage after the sporting event to help in muscle recovery. A post-event sports massage can also aid in reducing muscle spasm and soreness. Post-event massages are short and direct lasting usually only 30 minutes. The post-event focuses on the muscles used specifically for the sport. After striving hard a massage will increase your blood circulation to speed the removal of fatigue toxins, relieve your muscle spasms and prevent soreness.

Fine-tuning: For regular fine-tuning a massage will search out and relieve areas of bio-mechanical stress in your muscles before they become problems, enabling you to train harder and more consistently.

Injury Rehabilitation: Massage will speed healing of your injuries, increase your range of motion, and reduce scar tissue thus allowing your muscles to expand and contract fully. With less time spent recovering you’ll be training at your peak levels more often and become more competitive.

John James Massage Plano is a sponsor of the City Of Plano Swimmers (COPS)  and provides complimentary massage services to COPS members at their regular swim meets.

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