How to Improve Sports Performance with Sports Therapy Techniques

by Chris Foerster

Are you an athlete who is currently on the hunt for tips and tricks to improve your performance? It's not enough that you work hard and develop your skills – you might also need to care for your body if you plan on performing your best consistently.

With the help of some sports therapy techniques, you might be able to enhance your athletic performance in more ways than you imagined.

These methods might be used for more than optimizing performance – a number of techniques could be utilized to help speed up your recovery after training or competing, or sustaining an injury. It's for this reason why a doctor might refer injured athletes to sports therapists when they need to bounce back from injuries. Sports therapy might enable an athlete to regain normal muscle functioning and full range of motion sooner.

Putting Sports Therapy to Practical Use

When utilizing sports therapy methods, it is recommended that you have the assistance of someone with the right training and experience, as well as proper certification. That's because if utilized in the wrong manner, some sports therapy techniques can actually do more harm than good to an athlete.

Massage has a number of practical applications, and might be used in sports therapy techniques for improving athletic performance. For most individuals, getting a massage is a great way to attain relaxation and elimination of stress. For those who are engaged in sports, however, it might be used for priming their muscles and at times relieving muscle tension and aches most especially after training or competing.

There are various sports massage techniques available, each one having its own roles:

  • Effleurage: This is method might be applied before and after a massage session. The aim is to have the tissues warmed and muscles stretched. Effleurage also promotes removal of toxins in the muscles, and that is why it's commonly applied post-performance. Sports therapists do effleurage to have a sense of the condition of the tissue or muscle, too.
  • Petrissage: Sometimes performed by applying pressure or squeezing and picking up skin and muscle, petrissage might be used for stretching the muscle fibers as well as increasing blood circulation to the area. It might also be beneficial for relaxing tired and tight muscles especially after performing.
  • Tapotement: The primary goal of tapotement is to have the muscles relaxed, and that is why it's a form of massage that might be administered after training or performance. Involving techniques that might include cupping and hacking, tapotement is usually done to have the muscles prepared for more intense pre-training or competition massage.
  • Frictions: Sports therapists might perform frictions in order to break down scar tissue that may form where there's an injury. It is a massage technique that might accelerate recovery as it may help to improve the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the tissue and muscle.

Exercising is another sports therapy technique that might help in considerably improving your athletic performance. But aside from the usual exercises such as jogging, swimming and pumping iron, there are also certain special exercise routines that should be carried out, specifically those that involve gradual strengthening of the muscles of the body that you use for your sports.

For instance, there might be specific exercises that are beneficial for someone who plays tennis or badminton, and they might be entirely different from exercises that are meant for those who engage in track and field.

Consulting with a sports therapist is the best step to take if you want to know which exercises can be beneficial for your career as an athlete. Such an expert should be qualified to come up with an exercise plan that is based on your current fitness level and also specific needs, and have it administered.

Warm Up & Exercise Your Muscles

There may be exercises that are meant to be performed in between competitions, and there are also those that are designed to be carried out just before an athlete trains or competes.

Warming up and stretching are other sports therapy techniques that may be employed for improving the performance of an athlete. They are usually performed before exercising in order to have the muscles primed. Without proper warm ups and stretches beforehand, an athlete may fail to perform optimally.

Another reason why warming up and stretching are two very important sports therapy techniques is they help to reduce the chances of an injury from occurring. If the muscles of an athlete are cold and stiff because of lack of warming up and stretching, his or her risk of sustaining an injury is increased considerably.

Some types of stretching exercises can be carried out by an athlete alone, while there others that might require the assistance of a sports therapist or anyone else who knows how to perform them (e.g. the coach, assistant coach or a teammate). It's of utmost importance for stretching exercises to be done in the right manner most especially prior to a competition. Otherwise, it might strain or injure a muscle.

Cool Down Exercises

Other than warming up prior to working out, training or competing, it might be vital for an athlete to cool down after. Cooling down helps prevent the buildup of blood and fluid in the muscles.

There are many other sports therapy techniques out there aside from the ones mentioned above. If you are an athlete and you are looking to improve your performance using sports therapy techniques, it's a good idea to consult a certified and experienced sports therapist. He or she is someone who has the knowledge and skill set to identify your specific needs and design a plan that can help considerably improve your athletic performance.

Source: Fremont College website for sports therapy & wellness

*In no way is it recommended that you try to treat injuries by yourself. That should be done by a qualified professional. Before practicing any new modalities or techniques, check with your state’s regulatory authority to ensure they are within the state’s defined scope and standards of practice for therapy.