Pre-event and Post event massage

Pre-event massage is performed before the client participates in an athletic event. It is most beneficial when performed about 2 hours before the actual event. However, the effects of pre-event massage can last for a day or two. Some athletes may still benefit from massage up to 2 days before the event. The focus of the pre-event massage is not to replace, but rather enhance, the athlete’s warm-up routine.

Pre-event massage to increase circulation and warm the tissues

  • Also applied to reduce muscular tension, increase flexibility and range of motion
  • Can reduce anxiety, heighten the athlete’s sense of well-being and ability to concentrate
  • Usually on-site
  • Performed 2 days to 10 minutes before the event
  • Clients are usually wearing athletic apparel or warm-up suits
  • 15 to 20 minutes of brisk treatment
  • I Use light, non-specific rhythmic compression, rhythmic compression, kneading, superficial friction, vibration, stretching and joint movements.
  • I  Focus on the primary muscles involved in the event
  • Little or no draping
  • No lubricant
  • No changes are made to the length of muscles
  • No comments are made regarding client’s tissue unless an injury is suspected at which point I refer them to the medical tent
  • The techniques should not be deep or painful

No significant changes are made to the length of the muscles or fascia during pre-event massage, because the client’s kinaesthetic awareness could be altered.

More specifically, pre-event massage is intended to:

  • Increase circulation to the primary large muscles that will be used in the event
  • Increase the temperature of the muscles
  • Soften the connective tissues
  • Decrease muscle tension
  • Enhance range of motion
  • Increase general kinaesthetic awareness
  • Reduce general anxiety

Also important are other benefits including reduced cortisol levels, lowered blood pressure, and changes in brain wave activity.

Pre-event massage is often based on a routine in which clients typically lie on a table for a minimum of 15 to 20 minutes. Psychologically, pre-event massage benefits athletes by reducing anxiety and heightening their sense of well-being and ability to concentrate. Because this massage is so brief, I try to focus on the muscles that the athlete will use during the upcoming event. Any muscles that might be held in passive contraction for extended periods.

The session is light and non-specific. The strokes used most often include rhythmic compression, kneading, superficial friction, tapotement, vibration, and stretching and joint movements to increase flexibility. They are applied briskly, slightly faster than one compression stroke per second. They are intended to enhance circulation and energize the client. I use joint movements to stimulate synodal fluid production for lubrication and shock absorption at the joints.

Inter-event massage

Inter-event massage is performed in between events that occur on the same day and with a given time period. For example at half-time or between heats at an event. This type of event sports massage typically lasts no more than 10 minutes. Focuses on any areas of increased muscular tension that have occurred as a direct result of participation in the activity. 

Post event massage

Post event massage is most optimally performed within 2 hours of the athletic performance. It focuses on circulatory enhancement to aid in recovery from the activity as well as decrease muscle and connective tissue tension. 

Post event massage to increase circulation

  • Applied to reduce muscular tension, congestion and potential muscle soreness and restore flexibility. If necessary, relieve muscle cramps.
  • Usually onsite
  • Performed within 6 hours after the event
  • Clients are usually wearing athletic apparel or warm-up suits, or if possible dry clothes
  • 15 to 20 minutes or less, moderately paced treatment
  • Used gentle compression, stretching, gentle joint movements and fulling and lifting
  • Focus on the major muscles involved in the athletic event
  • Used lubricant
  • No deep stokes are used

Athletes should cool down and, if possible, put on dry clothes if they are receiving treatment immediately after their event. Post event massage generally focuses on the larger muscle groups specific to the sport, and the purpose of post event massage is to:

  • Encourage circulation in and around the muscles
  • Reduce muscular tension
  • Increase circulation
  • Minimize potential delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS)
  • Restore flexibility
  • If necessary, relieve muscle cramps

Immediately following performance, the athlete typically cools down and stretches. Often their musculature is suffering oxygen debt. One of the greatest benefits of massage is increased local circulation. It delivers oxygen to the tissues and reduces the metabolic buildup in the muscles. Metabolic byproducts are chemicals that build-up in the muscle tissue. That make the athlete feel sore and achy for the next few days. The stiffness and sore muscles, which often discourage people from exercise, can be prevented with massage.

Post event massage

Post event massage usually lasts 15 to 20 minutes. The session focuses on the muscles used during the athlete’s event and is slower paced, providing relaxation and general relief from exhaustion. Lubricant increases the comfort of effleurage strokes and enhances the slip, which can alleviate some of the pressure. Deep strokes are avoided because they can damage the fatigued tissues. Gentle compression and joint movements are commonly included in post event massage routines. To avoid causing a muscle cramp during an athlete’s post event massage, the pace of the application is slow. Massage strokes applied too rapidly may actually cause cramping to occur. Very gentle stretching and joint movement may also be applied to relax tense muscles and encourage circulation.  Some variations of the basic massage strokes that are commonly used in post event massage include fulling and lifting. 



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