Sports massage is a systematic manipulation of the soft tissues of the body that focuses on muscles relevant to a particular sport. Runner Paavo Nurmi, known as the "Flying Finn," was one of the early users of sports massage. Nurmi is said to have used sports massage during the 1924 Olympics in Paris where he won five gold medals. Jack Meagher is thought to be the father of sports massage in the United States.
So what should runners book instead? Anna Gammal, a massage therapist who works with elite runners at the Boston Marathon each year and also massaged athletes at the 2004 and 2012 Olympics, recommends either a sports massage (i.e. targeted therapeutic treatment for the unique physical and biomechanical needs of athletes) or a myofascial release massage (i.e. the application of gentle, sustained pressure on soft tissue restrictions). Both specifically target muscle release and will help improve flexibility, reduce pain and increase range of motion.
A satisfying sensation doesn’t necessarily imply successful treatment, unfortunately. Scratching mosquito bites feels great… but it’s not helping them! Trigger points may be like mosquito bites: it may feel terrific to massage those mysterious sensitive spots in soft tissue, but it may not be doing much to actually “release” or resolve them. It may be a purely sensory experience, the satisfaction of dealing with an “itch” that we cannot easily reach on our own.
The Elements Promise™ is not transferable and may not be redeemed for cash, bartered or sold. Void where prohibited or otherwise restricted by law. Substitute massage session equal in value and duration to original massage session; gratuity not included. Substitute massage session cannot be combined with any other offer. Other restrictions may apply; see individual studios for details.
A recent study published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine examined the effects of one session of Swedish massage therapy on the body’s hormonal response and immune function. Researchers from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, randomly assigned fifty-three healthy adults to receive one session of either Swedish massage or light touch (in which the therapist used only a light touch with the back of the hand). Both groups had sessions lasting forty-five minutes and were performed by a licensed massage therapist. Blood samples taken before and after the sessions were used to determine blood levels of certain hormones and circulating lymphocytes (white blood cells). The researchers found that participants had shown that Swedish Massage Therapy or resting an hour weekly significantly reduced blood pressure levels.
Following injury, and especially if it’s also a very stressful time, inflammation can prevent proper blood flow from reaching damaged tissue and can cut off vital nutrients and oxygen. This can cause toxins to accumulate around damaged tissue, which only increases swelling and pain. Some studies have found that even self-administered massage can help reduce pain associated with plantar fasciitis and other injuries. (10)

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To understand this difference, it’s helpful to first think of the body’s fascia and muscles in layers. Notice in this image the many overlappinglayers of these tissues. Fascia is a connective tissue which permeates the entire body – literally holding the body together, wrapping around every muscle, nerve, organ, blood vessel, and bone. These wrappings are all interconnected in a three-dimensional maze. The muscle layers run superficial to deep in the body.

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Some of the scientific research on massage therapy can be conflicting, but much of the evidence points toward beneficial effects on pain and other symptoms associated with a number of different conditions. Much of the evidence suggests that these effects are short-term, and people should keep getting massages for the benefits to continue. Researchers have studied the effects of massage for many conditions. Some that have been studied more extensively are blood pressure, general pain, cancer, mental health, fibromyalgia, headaches, HIV/AIDS, infant care, autism, anxiety, and diabetes. Massage therapy appears to have few risks if it is used appropriately and provided by a trained massage professional.
Ever gone to a county fair, music festival, or conference and envied other people getting chair massages? Passed by the chair massage section in an airport? Or, maybe you're lucky enough to work at a company that offers 15- to 20-minute massages as a regular benefit. Onsite, chair massages are done while you're seated fully clothed in a portable, specially designed chair. They usually involve a massage of your neck, shoulders, back, arms, and hands.
Swedish massage is the most common massage therapy technique in the United States. (In case you were wondering, Swedish massage is called “classic massage” in Sweden.)   A Swedish massage focuses on overall relaxation, circulation, and physical and mental wellness.  Swedish massage includes gliding, kneading, tapping, stretching, and cross-friction strokes.
In sports massage, the massage therapist generally concentrates on a specific problem area that you present, usually associated with some sort of sports activity, such as running, tennis, or golf. The most important thing with sports massage is that you find a specially-trained massage therapist who has mastery of a wide range of techniques and knows when to use them. In the past, many spas used to put sports massage on their menu as a way to appeal to men. As spas have become more sophisticated, however, they realize they shouldn't list sports massage unless they have some therapists with specialized training.

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In all cases, such massage techniques are employed in collaboration with other appropriate medical care. For example, encouraging circulation around a bruise, but not directly on it, through the use of compression, cross-fiber techniques or even long, deep strokes is only used after appropriate medical referral and diagnostics indicate that there are no clots formed in the area which may embolize.
Following injury, and especially if it’s also a very stressful time, inflammation can prevent proper blood flow from reaching damaged tissue and can cut off vital nutrients and oxygen. This can cause toxins to accumulate around damaged tissue, which only increases swelling and pain. Some studies have found that even self-administered massage can help reduce pain associated with plantar fasciitis and other injuries. (10)
Strength and stamina: There is no question that massage therapists must have a great deal of physical strength and endurance to perform their jobs every day. It takes a significant amount of arm and shoulder strength to perform various massage techniques especially when you have to do it all day with consistency. This is especially true for those who perform deep tissue massage or Swedish massage. Most sessions run an hour long. So, if you see at least six clients a day, it is crucial that you maintain your strength, focus, and attention to detail. 

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Middle-Ages: Medical knowledge, including that of massage, made its way from Rome to Persia in the Middle Ages.[citation needed] Many of Galen's manuscripts, for instance, were collected and translated by Hunayn ibn Ishaq in the 9th century. Later in the 11th century copies were translated back into Latin, and again in the 15th and 16th centuries, when they helped enlighten European scholars as to the achievements of the Ancient Greeks. This renewal of the Galenic tradition during the Renaissance played a very important part in the rise of modern science.


Massage used in the medical field includes decongestive therapy used for lymphedema[10] which can be used in conjunction with the treatment of breast cancer. Light massage is also used in pain management and palliative care. Carotid sinus massage is used to diagnose carotid sinus syncope and is sometimes useful for differentiating supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) from ventricular tachycardia. It, like the valsalva maneuver, is a therapy for SVT.[52] However, it is less effective than management of SVT with medications.[53]

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In all cases, such massage techniques are employed in collaboration with other appropriate medical care. For example, encouraging circulation around a bruise, but not directly on it, through the use of compression, cross-fiber techniques or even long, deep strokes is only used after appropriate medical referral and diagnostics indicate that there are no clots formed in the area which may embolize.

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According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) current Occupational Outlook Handbook, employment of massage-related occupation, like sports massage therapy, will grow at a rate of 24 percent through 2026. The country’s ongoing interest in health and fitness and in massage as a means to achieving flexibility and reducing stress will play a significant role in the career outlook for sports massage therapists over the coming decade.
Before you and your partner book your appointment, be sure to brush up on your spa etiquette. For many, a couples massage may be your significant other’s first visit to the spa. And while a trip to the spa should be a relaxing experience, if it’s your first spa-going encounter, it can be anything but if you don’t know what to expect. To calm those nerves, note the following spa protocol tips: For many, nudity may very well be the most nerve-wracking aspect of spa-going. Bear in mind, though, that maintaining guest modesty is a key priority for most therapists in the U.S. Male or female therapist? It’s your call. Spas make every effort to accommodate guest wishes in this regard, but it’s recommended to make advance reservations, particularly during peak hours. Speak up (if you wish). Couples can feel free to converse during their massage, or stay silent. It’s entirely your preference. For more on Couples Massage, see our guide.

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The study involved 263 volunteers with an average age of 48.5. Overall muscle spasm/muscle strain was described as either moderate or severe for each patient prior to treatments, which consisted of a massage between 45–60 minutes in duration. Results demonstrated an average systolic pressure reduction of 10.4 mm/Hg, a diastolic pressure reduction of 5.3 mm/Hg, a mean arterial pressure reduction of 7.0 mm/Hg and an average heart rate reduction of 10.8 beats per minute following massage treatment. (6)

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One of the greatest Persian medics was Avicenna, also known as Ibn Sina, who lived from 980AD to 1037AD. His works included a comprehensive collection and systematisation of the fragmentary and unorganised Greco-Roman medical literature that had been translated Arabic by that time, augmented by notes from his own experiences. One of his books, Al-Qānūn fī aṭ-Ṭibb (The Canon of Medicine) has been called the most famous single book in the history of medicine in both East and West. Avicenna excelled in the logical assessment of conditions and comparison of symptoms and took special note of analgesics and their proper use as well as other methods of relieving pain, including massage.

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Athletes tend to know their bodies fairly well, so information presented to the therapist seems to be better. Compared to the general client, the athlete is also in good shape and is concerned about getting back to the field of play as soon as possible. Some athletes have an obsessive compulsive behavior about their sport. This generally makes them very compliant with the therapists’ recommendations. 

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In all cases, such massage techniques are employed in collaboration with other appropriate medical care. For example, encouraging circulation around a bruise, but not directly on it, through the use of compression, cross-fiber techniques or even long, deep strokes is only used after appropriate medical referral and diagnostics indicate that there are no clots formed in the area which may embolize.

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Interestingly, many patients and therapists swear by massage as a way to reduce constipation or digestive upset, since the increased circulatory benefits and relaxation of the abdominal and lower back muscles can help relieve symptoms. In fact, a 2014 study from the British journal Nursing Standard highlights a number of the ways abdominal massage encouraging muscle contraction, nudging the gut to move things along.

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Each treatment is designed to provide restoration for your body and mind, and also make you look and feel the best you can. Massage can reduce stress and muscle tension, improve circulation, eliminate stiffness and soreness, boost the immune system, reduce pain and even help control one’s blood pressure. Couples who strive to practice a healthy lifestyle can enjoy these benefits and more together.

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Forty-three states, the District of Columbia and five Canadian provinces currently offer some type of credential to professionals in the massage and bodywork field—usually licensure, certification or registration.[79][118] Thirty-eight states and the District of Columbia require some type of licensing for massage therapists.[119] In the US, 39 states use the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork's certification program as a basis for granting licenses either by rule or statute.[120] The National Board grants the designation Nationally Certified in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCTMB). There are two tests available and one can become certified through a portfolio process with equivalent training and experience.[121] Between 10% and 20% of towns or counties regulate the profession.[97] The National Certification offered by the NCBTMB does not mean that someone can practice massage in any state.[122] These local regulations can range from prohibition on opposite sex massage, fingerprinting and venereal checks from a doctor, to prohibition on house calls because of concern regarding sale of sexual services.[97][123]
Many different movements and techniques are used in sports massage. Examples of these techniques include; Swedish style massage, effleurage (stroking), petrissage (kneading), compression, friction, tapotement (rhythmic striking), vibration, gliding, stretching, percussion, and trigger points. These movements and techniques are used to try to help the athlete's body achieve maximum performance and physical conditioning with a decreased chance of injury or pain and a quicker recovery.

Deep-tissue massage helps ease stress and tension, which can have a beneficial effect on blood pressure. People who had a deep-tissue massage saw their systolic pressure drop by an average of 10.4 mm Hg and their diastolic pressure drop an average 5.3 mm Hg, according to a study cited by the University of Maryland Medical Center. Deep-tissue massage can help increase the body's production of serotonin, the hormone that promotes happiness and good feelings.

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