Most of the top professional tennis players get a massage after every one of their tough matches. And many of my tennis buddies get regular body rubs themselves and swear by them. So, I asked a professional some key questions…
Larry Starr Knows …
I have known Larry for 17 years as the main “physical repair guy” (i.e. trainer) at Newk’s Tennis Fantasy Camp; and before that he was the Head Athletic Trainer for the Cincinnati Reds and Florida Marlins baseball teams. Here is what his answers were to my questions …
- What is the prime purpose of massage in sports? It helps to increase range of motion, increased flexibility, reduce muscle tension, relax nerves, decrease muscle spasms, better sleep, and a sense of well being. There is some recent research that shows that it also may improve cardiovascular response by increasing mitochondria, which helps in cells energy and metabolism.
- Are there different types of massage methods? There are different types of massage that are determined on the ultimate goal – relaxation or stimulation. They are usually classified into three types: Effleurage -light strokes to increase blood flow;
Petrissage – deeper kneading action; and
Tapotement – cupping or hacking of the tissues for deeper stimulation.
- If a tennis player doesn’t have access to someone, can they do something themselves? Absolutely – using foam rollers, The Stick, and other devices can be beneficial and create similar blood and nerve stimulation. Another thing that can be used as a personal massage and is very popular are Percussion Massage Devices. They are basically a medically approved upgraded zigsaw with different appliance heads. But they do work and are seen in most athletic training rooms today.
All these tools can be used both pre and post tennis playing for stimulation and relaxation. This done with proper post activity stretching and cool down are important in reducing muscle soreness and reducing injury.
- Considering cost/time/availability, how often should the average club player get a massage? Although I know their benefits and do enjoy them, I maybe get them 1-2 times a year. As for a recommendation for the club player, I would say a couple times a month. The exception would be a significant increase in playing time or unusual soreness might dictate more often. Cost could be a factor for some people also.
I have a whirlpool attached to my Florida backyard pool with two pumps going into it: one is the main pool pump and enters the tub through just one powerful jet (which is so strong that many people won’t sit in front of it). After tennis every day, I use that jet for a very effective “water massage,” which I credit (along with daily stretching) as my prime injury avoidance tools.
Get this: I have not had a massage since I was in the Army 50+ years ago; and June 3 was my birthday and my brother gave me a gift certificate for a massage! So, I will soon have a “first hand” opinion!
How about YOU, are you a massage person?
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