Sports massage can be broken down into three categories: Pre-event massage, post-event massage and maintenance massage.
• Pre-event massage is performed one to two days before an event (race, game, etc.). The focus here is to increase blood flow, warm and relax the muscles and stimulate circulation. This will increase the supply of nutrients and oxygen to the muscles, as well as mentally stimulate the athlete. Most of the time, the massage will consist of quick, pumping strokes. However, if the athlete is nervous or anxious, then it may be beneficial to use relaxing strokes to have more of a calming effect. At this time, no deep tissue or specific work is done.
• Post-event massage is performed one to two days after an event. The focus is to remove waste and fluids from overused areas to aid the recovery process. Overused muscles will suffer microtrauma from sustained exercise or contact sports, so the degrees of trauma will vary. Because of this, the massage is always the same for everyone aiming only to flush the muscles using light pressure.
• Maintenance work will include addressing any injuries or imbalances through massage, stretching and strengthening.