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Many people benefit from massage therapy. From gardeners, to drivers, office workers, to teachers; massage brings relief to almost everyone. Athletes, however, can reap the rewards of a good massage more than anyone. This article is written specifically for athletes, whether you play a weekly pick-up basketball game, or just got back from competing at the Summer Olympics. We’re focusing on the benefits of massage therapy for athletes.



As athletes, we understand how important your sleep is, both the quality of your sleep, and quantity. For a while now, studies have shown that massage therapy induces a better sleep, while also helping you create and maintain healthy sleeping patterns.


Sleep is crucial for our recovery. Without enough, muscle pain and tension grow, becoming more debilitating with time. Our need for sleep extends beyond muscle soreness though. Stanford University conducted a study with male basketball players. Their sleep was extended to ten hours per night. The results were encouraging, the speed the players ran in both half and full court sprints increased. Their shooting also improved by 10%. Similarly, male and female swimmers who extended their sleep to ten hours saw improved reaction times when diving off the blocks. Their turn times and kick strokes were also improved.



Massage therapy actually helps prevent injuries in three ways.

  1. The improved sleep patterns we just discussed helps to prevent injuries. More sleep means you’re more alert, which increases performance and reaction time. That can greatly reduce the number of injuries you experience.
  2. Consistent, therapeutic massages also help prevent scar tissue from building. Scar tissue is broken down during a massage which helps prevent future injuries.
  3. The risk of injury also decreases when tissue elasticity increases. When elasticity is poor, muscles are restrictive making strains and pulls more likely. During a massage, friction is created between the skin and fingers which increases blood flow to the area. This helps your tissue’s elasticity expand, making those strains less likely.



While massages will significantly reduce your risk of injury, they’re still a possibility. Which is why it’s great to know that massage therapy can still help.


Science Translational Medicine, published a study demonstrating how massages speed up recovery. Inflammation was reduced for both athletes as well as those suffering from chronic inflammation such as rheumatoid arthritis. The study also showed that massages during a workout cause immediate improvement in performance. The researchers discovered that massaging tissue induces the production of mitochondria, an energy cell that creates muscle tissue, decreases recoverytime, and suppresses pain.



You’ve probably heard about the variety of “detoxes” available on the market. It seems like every month a different celebrity is promoting a different detox solution. We don’t recommend those; we prefer letting our bodies detox through massage therapy.


During a massage, especially deep tissue, blood circulation is increased, helping muscles to eliminate toxins and absorb fresh oxygen and new blood. Not only is a massage way more enjoyable that a random apple cider vinegar mixture, its benefits are proven and reliable.


Oxygenation also promotes deeper breathing. This is beneficial for athletes as it enables a calmer mind set, as well as relieving stress and anxiety.



For many people the answer is usually dependent on their insurance provider. Speaking to your health care team, here at the Sport Manitoba Clinic, will help ensure you’re on track for a customized treatment plan.