Did you see that World Cup match last night? Yeah, the one where the guys from USA actually won … and did so in rather dramatic fashion?

It was spectacular – a great game of suspense, drama, injury and crazy kicks. But highlights will be on the news for days given the novelty of an American team win, so you can still catch the best action.

You know what you might also have seen? Players who are going to be in serious need of a massage today. Futbol players are running for the better part of 90 minutes in a World Cup game, with only a 15-minute rest in the middle. That’s a lot of time for muscles to be contracting in quick start/stop motions, pivoting on a dime and enduring the occasional “bump and grind” from opposing players.

While you are probably not going to be massaging professional soccer players too often, you are likely to have high school and college soccer players wander into your massage studios occasionally, looking for alternative therapies for their injuries.

There are 13 million people in the United States who play soccer, the third largest population in a sport in this country, just behind baseball and basketball. With numbers like that, you’re bound to see a soccer player need a massage at least once.

And though many athletic injuries require surgical repair and/or physical therapy in order to heal, there are many aches and pains for which massage therapy is the perfect treatment:

  • A quiet mind before a big match – The mental side of a team or individual sport is key to peak performance. So, a therapeutic massage that allows athletes to relax and clear their heads so they can focus more and concentrate better on the mental and physical sides of the sport is ultimately going to be more successful.

  • Before-game stretches – Particularly before a high-endurance sport, it is important to make sure muscles are warm and ready for high-level action. Massage combined with stretching can be very effective in helping muscles become more flexible, particularly immediately after massage. Warm, flexible muscles are much more desirable for athletes engaging in high-impact, high-energy or high-level sports. And cold, tight muscles generally scream at you.

  • Injury recovery is easier to handle – Even if massage is not healing the muscles, many athletes will agree that chronic pain management aids in their performance or just makes dealing with the pain of recovery a little easier to swallow. Researchers have concluded that the psychological effect of massage therapy does positively impact athletes.

So get out your cleats and grab a ball and head to the field. Your skills are kneaded.

– by Laurie Volkmann