Physio Corner – why should triathletes have sports massage?

Sports massage is a topic that is discussed by many triathletes. For a lot of athletes, both age-group and elite, it’s a fundamental part of their training regime, and vital for preventing injuries. In this Physio Corner, Evelyn Kummer, a sports massage therapist from Physio4life, takes a look at the benefits of sports massage and looks at reasons why athletes, who don’t have regular massages, should consider making it a part of their training regime.

If you think of the last time you hurt yourself – you probably rubbed the area – touch is a natural human reaction to pain. Massage is not just stroking and kneading of the soft tissues, but actually a scientific process. The physical changes of a massage offer a drug-free, non-invasive approach on the body’s natural ability to heal itself. Based on experience and performance, countless sport professionals hold the belief that receiving regular sports massage can offer numerous athletic benefits as discussed below.

Massage increases blood circulation and therefore helps provide oxygen and nutrients that the tissues need for recovery and building of new muscle tissue. The manual pressure of massage promotes the arteriolar pressure, as well as muscle temperature from rubbing. This enhances the exchange of substances between the blood and tissue cells, which promotes metabolism. It also stimulates muscular growth by intensifying the supply of essential nutrients needed to enlarge muscular size. For that reason massage can assists the body immensely during its remodelling phase following exercise.

Massage stimulates the flow of lymph, the body’s natural defence system that rids the tissues of waste. Although an active person typically has better lymph flow, vigorous exercise can lead to additional waste. This is where massage is extremely useful, since it can considerably facilitate lymph movement and therefore remove unwanted toxins.

Massage can reduce recovery time between workouts. Muscle soreness is caused by waste products such as lactic acid and carbonic acid that accumulate in the muscle tissues after exercise. As you now already know, these can be eliminated by increasing the circulation of the lymph flow. In addition, massage assists in breaking down scar tissue and adhesions that cause stiffness and pain during recovery time which hence accelerate the return to a normal range of motion.

Massage helps prevent and supports the healing of injuries. Many overuse soft-tissue injuries will benefit from a massage treatment by preventing fibrosis (the formation of scar tissue) and by influencing the secretion of specific fluids (for example nitrogen, phosphorous and sulphur) necessary for tissue repair. The increased circulation of blood and lymph flow promotes tissue regeneration, reduces inflammation and helps fight infection.

Massage improves range of motion, muscle flexibility and decreases muscle tension. Exercise can overwork or traumatise the joints and tissues surrounding them and as a result tend to tighten and become stiff. Massaging the muscles and soft tissues makes them become more supple and resilient. It provides stretching and helps loosening contracted, shortened muscles with restricted range of motion and can stimulate weak, flaccid muscles. This muscle balancing can subsequently improve posture and encourage more efficient movement.


Physio4Life is an award winning physiotherapy clinic priding itself in providing the very best diagnosis and treatment to ensure that athletes are able to return to everyday life with minimal disruption. Services on offer include sports injury specialists, sports massage, running biomechanics and video analysis, orthotics and footwear recommendations, core training and Pilates classes, and fitness testing. The long opening hours ensure appointments are available for even the busiest patients. Please contact them on 020 8704 5998 or see their website for more information.

John Levison
Article by
TRI247's Chief Correspondent, John has been involved in the sport for well over 30 years, 15 of those writing on these pages. While his passion is triathlon, you'll also find him watching Boxing, Darts or at the theatre enjoying a good musical...