The Winter Olympics finished earlier this year in Vancouver, and one thing prevalent at the games - besides terrific performances by the world's best athletes - was massage therapists, and a lot of them. And this prevalence of sports trainers and professional therapists was not unique to just this year's Games. Indeed, a study in The British Journal of Sports Medicine showed that 45 percent of the treatment athletes receive at major, international and national, sporting events comes in the form of sports massage therapy. The reason for this abundance of sports therapy is clear. In the journal of Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise, an article published in 2008 demonstrated sports therapy's extensive benefit for athletes, with therapy being credited in reducing levels of swelling while increasing levels of muscle strength after periods of strenuous exercise. In the same study, sports therapy also was shown to decrease the amount of energy the body must expend to heal damaged muscle groups. What does all this mean? It means that the world's best professional athletes will continue to use massage therapy at competitions of the highest level, which means that athletes at all levels may want to consider therapy to aid themselves and their teams in training and competitions. What, specifically, can massage do for athletes? - It can improve training, with therapy easing muscle pain and potential injury during strenuous days. Therapy can also keep muscles flexible and healthy during lighter days or periods of training. - It can improve performance. Sports massage before competitions can energize muscles and aid in stretching and warm-up exercises. It can also help limit the amount of pain and potential injury after grueling events. - It can improve health. Therapy has been proven to improve the body's circulation, essential for the removal of metabolic waste, but also important in maintaining a healthy immune system. Massage therapy has benefits for athletes of all sports. Be it basketball, hockey, lacrosse, swimming, running, bicycling, football, golf, basketball, soccer, tennis or any of the many other athletic pursuits out there, sports therapy can be a great way to ensure the best possible health and condition of athletes, during training and at competitions. There's a reason why almost half of all professional therapists practice sports therapy, and why nearly half of all treatment given to athletes at major, international competitions comes in the form of sports therapy. Quite simply: It works. Brandon Thomas is a nationally certified massage therapist and founder of JoyLife Therapeutics. JoyLife Therapeutics provides all kinds of massage: chair, corporate, office, special event and trade show therapy throughout the US.