Massage Tips and Trivia: Massage and the Olympics
"Athletes in the first Olympic Games received massages before and after each event. In the modern Olympics, massage wasn't introduced for the athletes until the 2004 games in Athens."
The Olympic Games have always been an example of the world's best athletes performing at the top of their game. These incredibly trained athletes have bodies that almost seem closer to machines than bodies of average humans. With all this amazing-ness of what they put their bodies through, one would think that massage would be a natural fit. Indeed, sports massage is utilized by professional and amateur sports teams around the world to help the athletes stay in shape by promoting better muscle tone, preventing injury, increasing range of motion and flexibility, and many more benefits. In fact, when the Olympics began - massage was a part of the training and sports themselves to keep the athletes healthy and in the best shape, especially so that they didn't hurt themselves.
Unfortunately, for whatever reasons, as the Olympics became a more modern, world-wide event, massage was not brought along for the ride. Even though massage for athletes was still used, it was something up to the responsibility of individual athletes on their own. The modern Olympics finally started providing massage therapy for their athletes in 2004 but it was considered "recreational" - and was housed in areas meant for the athletes to relax and hang out. It took until the London 2012 games to finally classify massage therapy as "medical treatments" and seriously made it available to all athletes.
Massage helps the athletes in 4 major ways:
1. Pre Event - Short, brisk, and simple massage meant to warm up the athletes' muscles before competing
2. Post-Event - Calming, longer massage meant to help athletes flush out extra fluid, stretch, and calm the nervous system after the shock of competing.
3. Maintenance - Not done immediately before or immediately after, but rather between events or during training to keep the athlete's muscles toned, healthy, and ready to be used again.
4. Rehab - Designed to help athletes with the everyday wear and tear their bodies go through to keep small things like muscle cramps, bruises, and minor muscle tears from becoming bigger problems.