Frequently Asked: “Should I be having pre / post event treatment?”

As Physios, one question we hear a lot is – should I be having pre / post event treatment? What are the benefits of having pre or post treatment? Will it help my performance during the event?

Any athlete, professional or amateur, will greatly benefit from pre and post event Sports Massage.  The aims of treatment are different between pre and post event, with both providing the benefits your body needs for the preparation and recovery of your event.

Pre-event massage

The main goal for pre-event massage is to leave the athlete feeling good and prepared, to help maximise performance. Treatment enhances performance by increasing muscle stimulation, increasing range of motion, and improving mental state. A pre-event massage should take place anytime between 2 days and immediately before the event. The main physiological effects are increased muscle temperature and increased blood flow. This then stimulates the muscles and reduces muscle tightness. Tight muscles reduce the range of motion around the joint, leading to a sub-optimal performance, pain and potentially injuries. The increased blood flow caused by a pre-event massage will improve muscle elasticity, therefore reducing tightness. Massage also has psychological benefits. For some athletes, massage is part of a ritual before competing, and it relieves the stress felt prior to an event.

Post-event massage

Typically, post-event massage is best performed from 30 minutes to 72 hours after competing. The goal is to work deeply within the muscles to encourage blood and lymphatic flow and restore the body back to normal levels. Receiving a massage in this time period will significantly reduce any soreness or fatigue. It helps to restore range of motion after exercise. The techniques used will increase blood and lymphatic flow, which help remove waste products (like lactic acid), which build up during exercise. Consequently massage helps relieve delayed onset of soreness, known as DOMS. Post-event treatment will help athletes to recover quicker and return to training without risking injury. It’s the perfect time to address any niggles felt during the event, so that they can be treated before returning to training.

Sports massage should be continued regularly, in order to maintain levels of fitness, by aiding recovery after exercise or training and preventing injury.