There isn’t a sport that I can think of where you train, practice, and then play your sport just one time then you are done until next year.  Usually an athlete has to play the game and then get prepped for the next one that will arrive for some later that day, maybe the next day, in two days, a week.  So, getting the athlete to recover as fast as possible to perform the next time is vitally important.

We are not just talking about recovery for an injured player.  Yes, you want that athlete to recover fast from the injury to get back to playing.  But, we are also talking non-injured athletes as well.  Practices can be tough and intense.  To prevent the body from breaking down, you want that person to recover to allow the body to heal and be back to 100% the next time you call on it to perform.

One of the best ways to allow a person to recover is massage therapy.  As recovery has become more and more emphasized the last couple of years, it has really started to become even more popular with athletes and sports teams.  This has become a key component for many athletes with their in-season training.

Massage has always been used by athletes in the past.

When most people think of massages, they think of something nice and relaxing with scented candles, etc.  Athletes may find the massages relaxing, but it is used for different purposes.  I’m sure it has been used for a long time, but I recently read about how track athletes in the eighties would get massages after each practice and each meet to recover quicker and get them ready for their next race.

What spurred this post on was me reading about the Florida State Seminole football team doing massage therapy for their athletes the last few years.  Last season, the team won 12 games, a conference championship, and a BCS bowl game.  The head athletic trainer at the school feels that the massage therapy program they implemented was a huge part in this process.

The athletes were fresher for practices and for games.  Meaning they could utilize their athletic abilities and play better.

What if you can’t get a massage after each practice?

For many young athletes, you just don’t have the means to get a massage after each practice.  You might not be able to get a massage ever.  What do you do?

Foam rollers can be really beneficial for you.  They can cost around $30 at most and you can use them all over your body.  It isn’t quite like a professional massage, but it can really loosen up your muscles and get some of that lactic acid out quicker.

Another device is a body stick.  This seems to help with more upper body muscles, but essentially does the same thing as the foam roller.  We recommend to all our athletes to use these two devices after their workouts.  We’re being nice.  Most strength coaches are now making it a requirement to use these devices after workouts to speed the recovery.

Once they are used, then you can do a nice stretching routine to finish off your day.  Doing these types of things will help reduce the muscle soreness you will receive and get you back to normalcy quicker.  You can’t be at optimum levels if you are struggling to recover.

Finally, try to get a good professional massage maybe once a season.  If you only got the means to do it once, maybe around tournament time.  Find a massage therapist that has worked with athletes, knows the body well, and can provide effective treatment to do what you need to do.  If you are in Columbus, there are many great massage therapists, but I recommend Melissa Muguruza with Vitality.  You can contact her at their website, http://vitalityforwellbeing.com.

Image courtesy of WezD on Flickr