Sports massage is designed to enhance athletic performance and recovery. There are four contexts in which sports massage can be useful to an athlete: pre-event, post-event, training and injury recovery. Pre-event massage is delivered at the performance site, usually with the athlete fully clothed. Fast-paced and stimulating, it helps to establish blood flow and to warm up muscles. During the massage, the athlete generally focuses on visualizing the upcoming event. Post-event massage is also delivered on-site, through the clothes. The intent here is to calm the nervous system and flush metabolic wastes from the muscles. Post-event massage can reduce recovery time, enabling an athlete to resume training much sooner than rest alone would allow. When an athlete sustains an injury, skillful massage therapy can often speed and improve the quality of healing.
For the athlete, sports massage techniques are utilized at all stages: pre-event, post-event, during training, and to expedite rehabilitation after injury.