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The prime purpose of sports massage therapy is to help alleviate the stress and tension which builds up in the body’s soft tissues during physical activity. Where minor injuries and lesions occur, due to overexertion and/or overuse, massage can break them down quickly and effectively. Above all, it can help prevent those niggling injuries that so often get in the way of performance and achievement, whether one is an athlete, ardent keep-fitter or a once a week jogger.
This treatment is not just for the sports person: anyone can benefit from sports massage, including people in physically demanding jobs and those not quite so obvious (occupational, emotional and postural stress may produce many similar characteristics to sports injuries).
Sports massage tends to be deeper and more intense. It is based on the various elements of Swedish massage and often incorporates a combination of other techniques involving stretching, compression, friction, toning, and trigger point response techniques similar to Acupressure and Shiatsu. The skilled therapist brings together this blend of techniques, knowledge and advice during treatment, to work effectively with the client to bring about optimum performance and to provide injury-free training and minimise post event injuries.
There are three areas where sports massage is used to benefit athletes.
A regular massage treatment programme based on the therapist’s understanding of anatomy and of the muscles used in a given sport and which are likely candidates for trouble. By concentrating on particular muscle groups the therapist can help the athlete maintain or improve range of motion and muscle flexibility.
Pre-event and post-event massage therapies are tailored for distinct purposes. Pre-event treatment is used as a supplement to an athlete’s warm-up to enhance circulation and reduce excess muscle and mental tension prior to competition. It is tailored to the needs of the athlete and his/her event and can be relaxing or stimulating as appropriate. Post-event massage, on the other hand, is geared towards reducing the muscle spasms and metabolic build-up that occur with rigorous exercise. Various sports massage techniques enhance the body’s own recovery process improving the athlete’s ability to return to training and competition, and reducing the risk of injury.
Even with preventative maintenance, muscles cramp, tear, bruise, and ache. Sports massage can speed healing and reduce discomfort during the rehabilitation process.
Soft tissue techniques employed by sports massage therapists are effective in the management of both acute and chronic injuries.
Trigger point techniques reduce the spasm and pain that occur both in the injured and "compensation" muscles.
Cross-fibre friction techniques can help with healing by improved formation of strong and flexible repair tissue, which is vital in maintaining full pain-free range of motion during rehabilitation.
Deep tissue massage
Deep Tissue Massage is a technique that focuses on the deeper layers of muscle tissue. It aims to release the chronic patterns of tension in the body through slow strokes and deep finger pressure on the contracted areas, either following or going across the fibre's of the muscles, tendons and fascia. Also helps to break up and eliminate scar tissue.
Deep tissue massage usually focuses on more specific areas and may cause some soreness during or right after the massage, but if it's done right the client should feel better than ever within a day or two.
The technique is often used in combination with other massage procedures such as those used in Remedial and Sports Massage.
How does Sports Massage work?
When there is chronic muscle tension or injury, the body handles this trauma in the only way it knows how. It forms a layer of very dense, very sticky fibrous adhesion, better known as scar tissue. Scar tissue is poorly vascularised and less elastic than muscle. These adhesions block circulation and cause pain, limited strength and movement, and cause continued inflammation? Sports massage works by physically breaking down these adhesions to relieve pain and restore normal movement. To do this, the sports massage therapist often uses direct deep pressure or friction applied across the grain of the muscles.
During the first treatment a brief consultation is undertaken to determine the main problem areas. Every sports massage is tailored to suit the needs of the individual. A course of treatments is normally recommended to completely remove all layers of fibrous adhesion and restore normal joint patterns.
Sports massage has a number of benefits including preventing injury, restoring mobility to injured muscle tissue, boosting performance, maintaining the body in overall better condition and extending the life of your athletic career.
Sports massage is a simple, commonly used form of therapy popular in sport. The benefits and effects of sports massage include physical effects such as circulating blood and lymphatic fluids as well as stretching muscle tissue and breaking down scar tissue. There are physiological effects such as reducing pain and relaxing muscles as well as psychological affects which include reducing anxiety levels.
Those suffering from certain conditions may also find sports massage to be quite therapeutic. Sufferers of chronic pain, fibromyalgia, oedema, muscle cramping, and postural mis-alignments may find significant relief from regular sports massage. The pressure exerted on different groups of muscle tissue stimulates circulation in areas of pain.
Sports massage however, is not for everyone. There can be mild to moderate discomfort during a sports massage as tight muscles are worked. There can be a day or two of soreness following the sports massage – similar to after you complete a rigorous workout.