The Benefits of Sport Massages

Massages have existed for over 3000 years. And, over the years, various types and techniques of massage have been developed. Through kneading, pressing, patting and stroking, massages aim to improve circulation and relieve knotted muscles.

The Benefits of Sport Massages

© Jan Greisinger - in the photo: Rosina Schneeberger

Interview with Jan Greisinger – Sport therapist at SPORTMED in Ramsau:

Sports massages are a special form of massage. They are usually used by athletes but can also have applications in everyday life e.g. when mobility suffers as a result of an accident or work-related injuries. In these cases, a qualified sports massage therapist can help reduce pain immediately.

Today I have the pleasure of chatting with a professional in sports massage, Jan Greisinger, from SPORTMED TIROL in Ramsau, and asking him a few questions.

 

Hi Jan, can you please tell our readers a little about yourself: 
As you said, my name is Jan Greisinger. I was born in Zell am Ziller in 1972 and so am a true Zillertal local. I am married with two children, Max and Mia. I live and work in Ramsau in the Ziller Valley. 

©Jan Greisinger

Why did you decide to pursue a career as a sports therapist, and how did you become self-employed? 

Well, that goes back quite a long way. In my youth I always did lots of sports and, when I suffered some little aches or pains I would get these treated by a sports therapist. So, I came into contact with this profession relatively early in my life. I was always fascinated by the way this job was so closely connected to sport. Then, when I was 17, I began my training in sports therapy in Salzburg. After many further training courses, I took my professional qualification in Innsbruck.

Whilst I was working as a masseur for some top companies, I also applied to work with the Austrian ski association (ÖSV). In 1994 I received a trial job offer to accompany the Austrian team for the European Cup races. I couldn’t turn down this opportunity and so, despite being quite homesick to begin with, I left to travel with the team. And this ‘trial’ job turned into ten unforgettable years of looking after the Austrian national ski team.

I worked with racers who, back then, had ambitions to race in the World Cup in the disciplines of giant slalom, super-G, downhill and also combination. These included: Stephan Eberharter, Hermann Maier, Hans Knauß, Pepi Strobl and Andreas Schifferer.

I learnt so much during this time. For example, that professional sport works to a different time scale and almost nothing is impossible. The network of doctors, clinics, practices and therapists….is simply world class. I had the opportunity to experience practices and methods of working all around the world. I realised that if I ever had my own business, I would only work with a team which could meet all of the patients’ needs. Such a team would include:

 

  • a good doctor
  • physiotherapy/massage
  • sports science
  • psychology 

 

As an individual, it is not possible to meet all of a patient’s needs, but as part of a team you can.  In 2004 my plans became reality. I founded a shared practice “SPORTMED Tirol“ in my grandmother’s house and brought together exactly the sort of team that I had always dreamed of. 

What concerns or complaints do your patients come to you with? How do they contact you and arrange an appointment? 

People come to me with a wide range of concerns or health issues: from various problems with the musculoskeletal system to therapies following an accident to “normal” back pain.  Everyone is welcome at Sportmed whether your injury is sport related or not. Approximately 98% of our clients are regular patients and 2% are professional athletes. To make an appointment, contact us by telephone on +43 5282 51010.

I’d like to find out a little more about sports massages. What is the difference between a sports massage and a classic massage?
They are very similar. However, for me there are two major differences which differentiate the sports massage from a classic massage: 

1.    The planning:
Sports massages are always planned according to the competition and training schedule of individual athletes. It’s important to understand that, after every massage the athlete’s energy levels are reduced. Therefore, treatments must be carefully planned so that they are in top condition for the next competition.

2.    The frequency and the close relationship: 
When I work with top athletes we have regular appointments. This means that we get to know each other well and, as a therapist, I know exactly how the athlete will react to a massage and what his or her condition is. This also has the advantage that I can better cater to their individual needs.  

Sportmassagen im Zillertal
©Jan Greisinger
Sportmassagen im Zillertal
©Jan Greisinger
Sportmassagen im Zillertal
©Jan Greisinger

When are sports massages required and how exactly do they work? 
Sports massages are generally needed by professional athletes and keen amateur athletes. 

In this case, massages can either be preparatory or rejuvenating. 

  • The purpose of a preparatory sports massage is to remove the tension which is created during training. However, in doing this the muscles also lose some of their effervescence. That’s why these massages should always take place 1-2 days before the competition, depending on the individual athlete. 
  • The rejuvenating massage is given after a competition to promote speedy regeneration and relieve tension so that training can resume more quickly. 
     

You often hear of massages which use various remedies such as warming lotions, heat pads, various oils, tape etc. What do you think of these? 
These remedies are always just part of the treatment as a whole. For example, tape cannot heal but it can support the healing process. 

I always use a normal, neutral oil for massages in a warm treatment room. Anything else can trigger an allergic reaction and, therefore, is not really recommended. When I am working outside then I like to use warming lotions, oils etc. 

© Jan Greisinger - im Bild: Rosina Schneeberger

Nowadays, there are many amateur athletes for whom sport is more than just a pastime. When do you recommend visiting a sports therapist, or are there any signs that you should consider sports therapy? 
It’s up to every individual athlete to decide what preventative steps to take to reduce their risk of injury. If an ambitious amateur athlete trains several times a week and complains of tired legs, then a sports massage would definitely be a good idea.

Prevention is better than cure. Every athlete should:

  • Do a good warm-up and cool-down.
  • Stretch out.
  • Find a way to relax the muscles.


That reminds me of muscle rollers. These rollers help the athlete and also the masseur to relax the muscles. By using these rollers you can warm-up better and so minimise the risk of injury.

Thanks for your time, Jan, and for giving us a glimpse into the world of a sports therapist. I am sure that both athletes and “non-athletes” have learned some useful tips from your advice. I wish you all the best for your future in sports therapy.