Massage as a Performance Enhancement Tool

Massage is a popular way of relieving stress and promoting relaxation in our fast-paced world.  Once considered a complementary or alternative medicine, massage treatments have become more mainstream and are increasingly being offered alongside standard treatments for a wide range of medical conditions.

Numerous studies cite the benefits of massage, demonstrating that it can be an effective treatment for reducing stress, pain and muscle tension.  While not an exhaustive list, some of the conditions for which people regularly seek out masseurs include:

  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia related to stress
  • Myofascial pain syndrome
  • Muscle strains or other sports injuries
  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain
  • Fibromyalgia (widespread musculo-skeletal pain)

In the sports setting, massage is often seen as an important modality to assist athletes in maintaining an overall sense of well-being, to promote recovery following training and ultimately enhance performance.  In other words, between demanding practice sessions and vigorous work outs, athletes regularly look to masseurs for assistance in reducing overall muscle tension, facilitate mobility work and to either prevent injury or aid recovery from an injury.

Recent research supports these ideas, adding that massage actually has healing effects at the microscopic level.  It has been shown that massage can reduce signs of inflammation in working muscles following exhaustive exercise, as well as promote faster recovery from muscle damage via a mechanism that influences mitochondria development. The value of massage as a performance enhancement tool is growing.

At BGGA, we have long since championed easy access to a sports masseur.  Since everyone responds differently to treatments, we offer our students the opportunity to try the service so that they can discover the benefits for themselves.  Numerous types of massage are available to the consumer, so determining a favorite technique may take some time.  Here are the most commonly used techniques utilized in our environment: 

Swedish massage – a gentle form of massage that uses long strokes, kneading, deep circular movements, vibration and tapping to help relax and energize you

Sports massage – similar to Swedish massage, but geared toward people involved in sport activities to help prevent or treat injuries.

Deep massage – this technique uses slower, more-forceful strokes to target the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue, commonly to help with muscle damage from injuries.

Trigger point massage – specifically focuses on areas of tight muscle fibers that can form in your muscles after injuries or overuse.

What to expect when you book a massage:

  1. Before the session begins, your massage therapist should ask you about any painful symptoms you may be experiencing, your medical history and expectations for the session. An explanation of the kind of massage techniques he/she will use, should also be provided.
  2. Next an evaluation will be performed. This is primarily determined through palpation (touch), to locate painful and/or tense areas and to establish how much pressure to apply.
  3. During the massage you generally lie on a table and are covered with a sheet. You will be asked to undress, but only to the point that you’re comfortable. If you are not comfortable with this, you can also opt to receive the massage while sitting in a chair, fully clothed.
  4. Usually oil or lotion is used to reduce friction on your skin. You must tell the massage therapist if you are allergic to any ingredients (e.g., essential oils, coconut oil).
  5. Be aware that occasionally you may have a sensitive spot in a muscle that feels like a knot. It’s likely to be uncomfortable while your massage therapist works it out. But if it becomes painful, or you feel as if the pressure is too much then you need to speak up and let them know. If any part of your massage doesn’t feel right or is painful, speak up right away.
  6. Commonly a session will last between 10 and 90 minutes; you should feel calm and relaxed during and after your massage. Everyone reacts slightly differently so be aware that you may feel quite tired or a little muscular soreness following your treatment – this is relatively normal. We suggest you do NOT schedule a treatment immediately prior to any physical training sessions (i.e., golf practice or workouts).
  7. Drinking water following the massage to assist the body in flushing out is highly recommended.

So, brush aside any thoughts that massage is only a feel-good way to indulge or pamper yourself.  On the contrary, massage can be a powerful tool to help you take charge of your health and well-being, whether you have a specific health condition or simply looking for way to reduce stress.

Caine Ackerman is a qualified Massage Therapist in the State of Florida.  With a keen interest in golf and strength and conditioning practices, he has consulted at Bishops Gate Golf Academy for the past three years.  For more information regarding the services Caine provides at BGGA or to schedule an appointment at our location, please contact Karen Harrison (Director of Health and Athletic Development at KarenH@bgga.com).

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