Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now




A History of the Sports Massage

Posted on October 29, 2013 by Daniel Lofthouse

sports massageEvery good athlete knows the benefit of a sports massage, and it is often a factor in their success. Some elite athletes even have sports massage therapists who travel with them to help them improve performance, prevent injury and feel better as they are exercising or playing their sport.

Ancient Massage
Massage generally has been in existence for thousands of years. In China, there are documents claiming that massage was used 8,000 years BC for ailments. The ancient Persians and Indians were also known for healing with massage, and the Ancient Romans were treated to a massage before and after Olympic events. Knowledge of massage continued to progress until the Chinese created the first schools of massage in 100 AD.

Late 1800s
There is debate about who introduced the theories and techniques of medical massage to the scientific community. Some attribute them to Johann Mezger, and others to Pehn Ling. However, terms such as effleurage (gliding), petrissage (kneading), tapotement (pounding), friction (rubbing) and vibration (shaking) were used at this time, and they continue to be used to this day.

The Finnish School of Massage officially laid out sports massage methods in 1900.

The 20th Century
In the 1924 Olympics, runner Paavo Nurmi from Finland (of course), won five gold medals and partly attributed his success to his regimen of medical massages. The same year, Dr I.M. Sarkisov-Sirasini began to teach his own ideas and methods for Russian sports massage at the Central Institute of Physical Therapy in Moscow.

In 1945, pro athlete and massage therapist Jack Meagher was given special massages by a German prisoner of war. He said that these massages dramatically improved his physical performance in sport. Meagher then went to a German massage therapist to learn different methods.

Meagher published a book in 1980 named ‘A Complete Program for Increasing Performance and Endurance in 15 Popular Sports’. This book has since become an essential in sports massage theory and technique.

Today
Sports massage has become a modality in itself, and to practice as a sports masseuse, you need specific training. A good sports massage will address the specific needs of athletes, including the easing of stiffness and pain, increasing mobility in muscles and joints, warming up muscles before exercise and removing toxins afterwards. A sports massage can also help to keep anxiety levels low before an event and can increase mental alertness.

If you’re looking for an osteopath, London is home to the some of the world’s leading sports massage therapists.


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