Steve highlights some of the many reasons why Sports massage therapy can help you. Click view post to read more
——————————————————————————————————– There are many benefits from massage to sports men and woman, whether you are a top athlete or just keeping fit . Massage can be used as pre event, inter event or post event. (Detailed below) One of the main benefits apart from those listed below is the treatment to injuries. When injuries occur many are left with scar tissue, to speed up the recovery process it is important to increase the blood supply to the injured area. This can be done by heat lamp, or sports massage. The aim is to increase the amount of oxygen and nutrients to the damaged tissues.
Massage is an effective therapy for releasing muscle tension. Received regularly massage will help athletes prevent injuries, which might otherwise be caused by overuse. A constant build up of tension in the muscles from regular activity may lead to stresses on joints, ligaments, tendons, as well as the muscles themselves.
By having a massage, a therapist will be able to detect variations in the soft tissues and by using the correct techniques help the sports person maintain general fitness.
Some of the main benefits:
- Exercise and stretch weak, tight muscles.
- Help athletes prepare for, and recover from, strenuous workouts.
- Helps prevent cramp (especially people over 50 yrs. and long distance runners!)
It is not just sportsmen who benefit from massage. Massage can be beneficial to everybody.
The different techniques of massage have a pumping effect which stimulates the general circulation of blood and so increases both the supply and removal of substances on a cellular level. All the different cells in the body need a good supply of blood which contain all the ingredients they need for growth.
Massage has a relaxing and therapeutic sedentary effect. .
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Some of the main effects and benefits of massage are listed below:
- · Relieves stress and tension
- Reduces medication dependence by easing pain.
- Enhance immunity by stimulating lymph flow (the body’s natural defence system.)
- Improve the condition of the client’s skin.
- Increase joint flexibility.
- Helps with depression and anxiety.
- Promote tissue regeneration, reducing scar tissue
- Pump oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs, improving circulation.
- Reduce post surgery adhesions and swelling.
- Release endorphins (amino acids that work as the body’s natural painkiller).
- Relieves migraine pain.
- Alleviate low-back pain and improve range of motion.
- Enhances sleep quality.
- Greater energy.
- Improves concentration.
- Increases circulation.
- Reduces general fatigue.
- Relief for Oesteo and Rheumatoid Arthritis sufferers.
- Reduces high blood pressure.
- Premenstrual syndrome sufferers have decreased water retention and cramping.
There are many different forms of massage; I personally do not think there are many disadvantages to massage. Some forms of massage will not always be suitable for that particular person; it is the skill of a good masseur to understand this. If the client comes away from treatment with a feeling of relaxation, an improvement to health and a feeling of well being, then what ever form of massage has been performed, it can only be for the good. Providing the masseur has experience and has an understanding of the clients needs then ‘any massage is better than no massage’
Swedish massage is a light form of massage where there is not to much deep tissue movements performed. It does not have much effect in the treatment of injuries
There are contraindications to massage, this relates to certain conditions where massage should not be applied. If there is any doubt the client should always seek medical advice before having a massage.
Pre event massage
Pre event massage is a short specific treatment given immediately before or up to two days before the event. It increases the circulation, mobility, flexibility, and mental clarity of the athlete which improves the performance. It can be used in between the warm up period but must not replace the athletes warm up.
Inter event massage
Although time is very short to massage during an event, massage can have a beneficial effect. The massage should be short, light and releasing. Cramp can be a big problem at this stage and massage is a great way to relieve it. There can also be a build up of lactic acid at this stage and removal will only benefit the athlete. Other benefits are to relieve excessive tension and drain unwanted toxins from the body.
Post event massage
Post even massage should be performed after a cool down, possibly within 1-2 hours after the event. If this is not possible then roughly 3 days later will prove beneficial. Post event massage helps reduce fatigue, speeds up recovery time, and relieves tension, cramping, and any inflammation that might have occurred. It is also common to have a build up of lactic acid at this stage. To improve flexibility of the athlete stretching is advised at this time.
Effleurage is always used at the start of massage when applying oil; it consists of a variety of stroking movements, usually carried out with the whole palm of the hand and fingers. It is used in such a way as to relax the client. With experience it is used in a way to be able to examine the area before deeper massage. Effleurage is also used to complete the massage finishing with light stroking to again relax the client, particularly if movements that are more painful have been used beforehand.
Petrissage or kneading is used on deeper tissues for mobilising fluids, stretching muscle fibres, and inducing relaxation. Some of these techniques are specifically aimed at only deeper tissue and are therefore both ineffective and difficult to perform on narrow parts of the limbs. You must therefore pay particular attention, as with all massage techniques, as to what your purpose is when kneading petrissage is a powerful technique that is particularly effective in mobilising fluids in very deep muscles and applying a good stretch to the fibres involved.
Percussion movements are made with alternate hands striking the skin in a rapid succession.
Variants are: cupping, hacking, and beating which all increase circulation.
This is the deepest technique used in massage and is targeted at specific areas of soft tissue damage. Moves include
- Friction with one thumb on top of each other
- Friction with the tip of the thumb strengthened by the fingers of the other hand
- Friction with the thumb, supported by the other fingers and strengthened by the other hand
- Friction with the finger tip supported by the other fingers
- Friction with the tip of the elbow
Deep tissue techniques are the most effective way to identify deep lesions they should be
performed slowly to help with observation.
Is a way of loosening muscle fibres by going across the muscle.
Has a pumping effect to increase the blood flow to muscles by going lengthways with the direction of the muscle.
Vibrations (rocking & shaking)
Rocking is used mainly after the massage and appeals to the senses on a more primary level, it’s a bit like rocking a baby it promotes relaxation and assurance.
The effects of Shaking are similar to those of rocking it is excellent for overall relaxation and stimulation. It is also a good way to loosen joints.
As a therapist it is very important to give good after care advice, this is necessary to help speed up the recovery process. It is important to recommend total rest for a few days after treatment. After this total rest period it is important for the client to keep relatively active rather than total rest. The client will need to do certain types of exercises and activities. Strengthening and correct stretching also play a big part in the rehabilitation stage.
This is sometimes called active rehabilitation, as a coach I personally call it ‘active rest’
Any form of gentle activity promotes blood circulation and also activates the lymphatic system which helps to clear the body of toxins that have built up during injury. PNF stretching also plays a big part at this stage.
Psychologically the client ‘feels he is getting back to fitness and is at least doing some exercise!’
Many clients do not drink enough water, this is a good time to emphasise this point as it is very important to flush out bad toxins that have built up in the system. Being hydrated will help relieve and speed up recovery time.