Why use Sports Massage in your deload week or pre-event
As part of your preparation for event or race, massage can be viewed like a training session, as it is a key part of the recovery between sessions, helping the body to cope with increasing stress placed on it during training, and in turn, reducing the risk of injury. Massages can be added into your training in the deload week of your training plan, where you will have more free time as the volume of training reduces. For example, lots of training plans follow a 4 week cycle, building in intensity for 3 weeks, then providing a deload week every 4th week for recovery and physical adaptation. This is a good time for a massage. Utilising time for massage during this recovery deload week speeds up recovery from training sessions, leaving you feeling fresh for the event or training session, helping to reduce any niggles from training or event, leaving you ready to perform to the best of your ability.
- Avoid a deep sports massage less than three days before event or race as deep massage can leave the muscles sore.
- Use massage throughout your training process so know what to expect from a sports massage, how it benefits you and how your body will respond.
In addition to the physical benefits…
Massage is a great way to mentally prepare for an event, helping with any pre-event nerves or jitters due to the relaxation effect of the massage. Before exercise and competitions, adrenaline increases, which can cause feelings of stress or anxiety. While some nervous energy can improve performance, higher levels of stress can have a negative effect on the body and on performance, reducing flexibility and function of the muscles. Massage stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, decreasing the stress hormone, and controls the adrenaline levels in the body whilst increasing temperature of the muscles and promoting relaxation.
In the days leading up to your main event, massage will not be as deep into the tissues as a maintenance massage, but more focussed around increasing the blood flow, flushing through the muscles, to increase length, flexibility and encourage the removal of any remaining waste products.
It is also possible to use massage on event day, as part of your warmup process, where faster, more vigorous massage techniques are used to prepare the muscles tissues and increase blood flow.