Sports Massage is a widely accepted complement to fitness training, hence the reference to “sports" massage. However, even without regular fitness training there are very significant benefits from a regular sports massage.
Whether you are an athlete, occasional exerciser, desk worker or stay-at-home parent you will experience tight shoulder and muscles, aches and pains, and postural issues at some point in your life.
Deep tissue sports massage can help ease away tension, help you pinpoint the area responsible for bad posture and provide relief from chronic muscle pain.
Deep tissue sports massage can unlock your body’s potential and solve muscular problems that block your physical progress. Combine this with targeted exercise to strengthen deep postural muscles and live your life free from pain!
Tools available to a Sports Massage therapist
Soft tissues suffer trauma from overuse, adaptive shortening, postural imbalance, strains, stress or nutritional deficits. Such trauma leaves the soft tissues in a state of involuntary spasm, leading to pain and a restriction of movement. This spasm causes a ‘trigger point’ to form in the soft tissue structure which will feel like a knot. Deactivation of these trigger points will:
- Reduce local and referred pain patterns
- Restore muscle imbalances
- Increase soft tissue mobility
- Improve circulation
- Provide a local and general relaxation
- Increase flexibility of the affected muscle
- Improve range of movement (ROM)
- Release soft tissue
This is an advanced and very specific sports massage technique. It’s a combination of stretching and deep friction aimed at stretching a specific muscle. It is commonly used with frictions to:
- Reduce adhesions in soft tissue structures
- Improve local circulation
- Increase functional ROM
- Develop flexibility in tight muscles and muscle groups
- develop Muscle Energy Techniques (MET) stretching
METs are a form of passive stretching from the world of osteopathic techniques. METs target primarily the soft tissues, although they also help with joint mobilisation. The purpose of METs stretching is to improve a client’s flexibility and range of movement within a joint. The effects are to:
- Release muscle spasms
- Decrease muscle hypertonicity (tension)
- Improve muscle flexibility
- Restore muscle balance
This technique is the application of direct pressure on soft tissues. This manipulate the tissue structure by softening adhesions and restoring the muscle to its full function. Along with Soft Tissue Release, it stretches a very specific area of tissue. Its effects are to:
- Reduce congestion in a local area
- Increase local circulation
- Reduce the effect of scar tissue following injury
- Improve the mobility of soft tissues
All about Sports Massage
- Enhances sports performance (before, during and after an event)
- Stretches tight muscles for increased flexibility and suppleness
- Pain relief and management
- Helps identify and correct postural problems (along with correct strengthening exercises)
- Releases tension and aids in relaxation
- Improves circulation and lymphatic drainage
- Breaks down old scar tissue and adhesions - it can help with painful or unsightly scars, helping them to shrink and blend into the surrounding tissue.
- Identifies weakness before injury occurs
- Aids recovery after injury
- Improves mobility, posture and physical performance
- Increass flexibility and range of movement
- Improves balance between muscles
- Promotes greater postural awareness
- Improves the speed and quality of soft tissue repair
- Stimulates peripheral nerves i.e. keeps your nervous system healthy
- Increases muscles relaxation so increases your sense of wellbeing
- Reduces the effect of muscle soreness
- Calms the mind and body
- Aids reduction of fat – in conjunction with appropriate exercise
- Help with cramp
- Helps areas that healed inappropriately and now cause pain and dysfunction.
- Stimulates circulation
- Decongests the tissues and improves tissue drainage
- Removes metabolic waste
- Increases the uptake of oxygen and nutrients to the tissue cells
- Increases the rate of tissue repair by improving soft tissue mobility and formation of collagen
The recommended frequency of a sports massage depends on your lifestyle. Someone involved in regular sporting activity will frequently experience microscopic muscle tears from use and recovery.
Sports massage promotes swifter muscle recovery and therefore improved performance at the next exercise session. Regular sports massage supports optimum muscle function by preventing the occurrence of major injuries such as muscle, tendon or ligament strains and tears.
A good sports massage should be performed within your tolerance level so continued communication with your therapist is very important.
It is important to understand what your therapist is doing so you can co-operate with the procedure and understand why it feels uncomfortable (if it all).
If muscles are tight, or tissue has healed incorrectly, treatment may feel uncomfortable, but its purpose is always to bring healing and restore proper muscle function.
However, a full sports massage treatment will include times of muscular relaxation which creates a sense of wellbeing.
You need to understand why you have bad posture in the first place and then do what you can to eliminate those factors from your life. If you don’t, anything your therapist does in a session will be undone when you return to your normal life.
Sports massage can definitely help release the tight muscles that cause bad posture but you may need to retrain your muscles to maintain correct positioning by doing regular exercises such as Pilates to strengthen your back and core muscles.
Each discipline has its own benefits. Sports massage deals with soft tissue, which includes muscles, ligaments, tendons and skin. These tissues make up around 70% of the body so sports massage plays a very valuable part in bodily wellbeing.
A sports massage therapist uses various skills and techniques to manipulate, stretch, de-tone and release soft tissue, depending on the presenting condition.
A patient with issues falling outside the scope of a sports massage, such as joint problems in the spine or hip, a referral will be made to the appropriate healthcare professional.
At BodyFix Therapies I use both sports massage and Tuina massage techniques as appropriate for the particular situation.