Every NHL team has a massage therapist, yet at present there is little or no evidence that massage is beneficial for athletes performance. There also isn’t any major agreement amongst researchers over the type of massage to be employed or the length of time needed to show some results.
Despite all of this, NHL teams are investing thousands of dollars into massage specialists. Coaches and athletes believe, based on observations and experiences, that massage is beneficial. Just as an example, the number of massage sessions that was carried out for the UK Team at the Summer Olympics at Barcelona in 1992 was around 780.
I will not go into a deep explanation of the physiological process during massage. First of all I am not a researcher or a doctor and second of all professional scientists still did not figure it out by themselves.
From my experience as a goalie and a goalie coach, I do believe in the following.
Trigger point therapy massage works to relax stiff muscles, which were caused by over usage. I used it many times in the past and it worked for me. This is very handy tool for goalies, when they have tight groin.
Regards the regular sport massage, I feel that we always try to find evidence at physiological level and not psychological level. During a massage my mind relaxes and this probably triggers changes at hormonal level, which triggers changes in your muscles. Relaxation during a massage has very similar feeling comparable to meditation. There are many types of meditations and many types of massages, therefore you have to find which one suits you. It is same as with your goalie style of play. (These beliefs might change in the future as more knowledge will be acquired.)
My recommendation for ball hockey goalies.
- Use trigger point therapy if you have stiff muscles, but remember that to prevent stiff muscles you have to focus on the following factors. Stronger muscles, mobility, sleep and nutrition.
- Have relaxation massage at least once a week after goalie practice.
- Chose type and length of massage that puts you in a state of meditation/relaxation.
From my observation I strongly believe that muscle performance can be improved only by meditation. This type of meditation requires a lot of practice and therefore massage is a great alternative which doesn’t require any learning process.
Many NHL goalies meditate, which helps their quick decision making and focus during a game.