WHAT IS SPORTS MASSAGE
Sports massage is a deep form of massage that seeks out the tight or fibrous areas of soft tissues such as muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia; and by releasing tension and reducing adhesions can help those tissues to perform better.
Sports massage is not just for those involved in sport. The name covers a type of massage that evolved because of the need for a deeper, more focussed treatment to aid the rapid recovery from injury that is demanded by sports people. It is just as applicable to the treatment of aches and pains acquired through long hours in front of a computer, or through gardening.
It can be more uncomfortable as a treatment than the gentler Therapeutic or Swedish massage, but should never cause distress. The patient will be asked for feedback so that the treatment can be modified, either through depth or technique, to provide the most effective treatment for that patient at that time.
Remedial massage is Sports massage with more knowledge of why a particular treatment is needed and with more techniques available to achieve the desired result.
HOW DOES MASSAGE WORK?
- It loosens tight muscles
- It breaks up adhesions in muscles, in fascia and between structures of the body (such as where nerves and muscle have become adhered together with scar tissue).
- It improves blood flow, which aids healing and recovery, and also can improve performance through increased movement of nutrients and waste products.
- Many aches and injuries have their origins in excessive muscle tension. This could be either directly, as in aching neck and shoulders through poor posture in front of a computer, or indirectly, as in knee pain through a short or over tight Ilio-tibial band on the outside of the thigh. With either scenario the tightness can be relieved with massage and other releasing techniques. Advice and instruction would then be given on stretches, exercises and posture (if appropriate) so as to maintain this improvement.
- Because massage is a hands on treatment, tensions or a build up of scar tissue can be detected long before they might surface as an ache or an injury. This is one reason why regular massage is of such benefit to anyone involved in sport.
- Stress causes tension in muscles which may even be sufficient to manifest as pain. A common cause of headaches is tension in the neck and shoulders. This can be released through massage. Those that frequently find themselves stressed would benefit from regular massage, which would also help them to unwind mentally.
WHAT TO EXPECT DURING A TREATMENT
- The first treatment will involve a consultation where written notes will be made of relevant medical history and an assessment made of what treatment may be necessary, including any appropriate referral to another Practitioner such as a GP or an Osteopath.
- Treatments can be performed anywhere, with the patient in any position, but are generally easier and often more effective on an adjustable plinth in a clinic. It is also generally more effective (but not essential) to work directly through the skin. So the patient will be asked to remove as much clothing as is necessary, and that they are comfortable to remove. Areas of the body not being worked on will remain covered with towels.
- For massage, an unscented hypoallergenic lotion is generally what is used.
- Sports massage is a firm treatment, but should not be any more uncomfortable than the patient can relax with. To this end communication between patient and practitioner is essential to achieve the right level of treatment. The patient should not hesitate to say if they are unhappy with any aspect of the treatment.
- Treatments will also include advice and instruction on stretching, remedial exercises and posture where necessary. Although a considerable improvement may frequently be achieved following the first treatment, it is generally advisable to have two or three or sometimes more treatments to effect a more lasting benefit.
- The more that patients are able to help themselves by doing the stretches and exercises prescribed and through following any advice given to modify their posture or training, then the fewer treatments they should need and the quicker their bodies will return to good function.