How Sports Massage Recovers Health and Reduce Risk of Injury
Sports massage is a kind of a massage that manipulates the soft tissue and relives the muscles of a person engages in any sort of physical activity. Soft tissues are very soft tissues and include skin, muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia. It is naturally designed to rectify problems and imbalances in the soft tissue that are caused from the repetitive and excessive physical activity, eventually it enhances the performance and prevents injury.
Originally, Massage was used over 3000 years ago in China, India and Greece and is recorded as one of the earliest forms of physical therapy. Popularly, It is used in the Western world due to the work of Per Henrik Ling (1776 – 1839). Henrik Ling developed the form of massage now known as Swedish massage. Ling developed his own style of massage and exercise to help fencers and gymnasts, gaining international recognition in the process. In today’s time, there are many forms of massage available to help people in maintaining health and wellbeing. Sports massage has been accepted in America, Canada and Australia for many years now, while in the UK, the practice only became known and more widely used in the 1990s.
The sports massage is a massage therapy which is given to the athletes. This kind of massage focuses on the part of muscles that have experienced a large amount of stress. Such muscles are the muscles that have experienced repetitive and aggressive movements during the sports or competition.
People have started considering the sports massage as an overall regime for the training of an athlete. Sports massage is extremely helpful for the athletes. According to a 2010 study in America, it was found that the athletes who experienced massage before and after the training saw a decrease in soreness after the competition.
The hard and difficult training sessions of athletes often lead them to muscle rigidity. Sports massage can help them relax and bring back the flexibility of the muscles. If done before the competition, it helps in improving the performance. The sports exercise is so rigid that it makes the body stressful. This often leads to injury. So, it is very important for an athlete to keep proper care of the body. Sports massage helps to prevent stress and injuries. It increases blood flow and lymph fluid that heals the body naturally. It also reduces swelling and inflammation associated with activities.
Sports massage relaxes the body and helps in circulation of the blood into the body. Blood flow into muscles creates new tissue and increased strength and stamina which eventually supplies nutrients to the body. Lactic and uric acids are natural by-products of exercise. This can be reduced with the help of sports massage. For an athlete having a strong mind is equally vital as having a strong body. The body is only as strong as the mind, so having a strong mind that is relaxed and focused is a definite edge in highly competitive sports. A stressed athlete is not nearly as capable as one with a clear mind.
A sports massage techniques include warming-up, relaxation and getting ready for much deeper work. It also incorporates rubbing, compressions, longitudinal and cross-fiber friction as well as tapotement. A specialist can also use methods such as stretching, myocardial as well as soft-tissue release.
Sports Therapy requires a higher level of training that includes a wider set of skills and knowledge. There is general agreement within the UK of some core areas which are essential to sports therapy although the emphasis will vary amongst training providers with some favouring soft tissue therapy and others leaning towards rehabilitation or emergency care. The therapy includes:
Anatomy and physiology
Ethics and Professionalism
Advanced Manual Therapy Skills
Injury assessment and treatment
Rehabilitation from injury
First Aid and advanced trauma care
Taping for Sport
Other areas sometimes included are Electrotherapy, Strength & Conditioning, and/or Sports Nutrition.
The sports therapist specially works to help individuals and teams progress from being able to perform physical functions to physical and highly skilled activities.
The Health Professions Council (HPC) took a collective initiative in the mid 1990’s to establish sports therapy as a ‘regulated’ profession with protected title. ‘Protected title’ means that only those who had demonstrated achieving the required standards being allowed to practice under the chosen title. The agreement by all those with an interest in this area was that the minimum educational standard to practice in this field would be University Undergraduate level. However, more recently the HPC have restricted applications to those professions where there is deemed to be a risk to the general public. Originally, Sports Therapy was not considered to pose any risks and will therefore not be put forward to the HPC unless there is a change in policy in the future which is not foreseeable at the present time.
Therefore, Sports Therapy is currently not regulated in spite of having a membership organisations who continue to promote sports therapy through University programmes.
Sports massages are not limited to athletes. It is an appropriate massage treatment for anyone who is in need of a remedial or soft tissue mobilisation. The remedial effects of sports massage are beneficial post-surgery, or as a health benefit within an office environment.
When it comes to sports, people who participate in sports can use a sports massage as a regular part of their training programme. It enhances their performance.
Types of sports massage
Before discussing the techniques of a sports massage, it is very important to discuss the types of sports massage. Here are different types of sports massage.
Injury Rehabilitation – Injury rehabilitation is one kind of a sports massage if you get injured. Whether it’s a muscle pull, joint pain or recovery from surgery, The therapist are trained to get you back in the game.
Injury Prevention – In this type of sports massage, the biomechanical imbalances, areas of tightness and range of motion is assessed and therapeutic treatments are given to the people to help “rebalance” the body. Stretches and body specific home therapy is also given to the people to help prevent injuries.
Maintenance – Weekly or bi-monthly sessions designed to reduce recovery time between intense workouts, decrease muscle tightness, release holding patterns and reduce the potential for injury.
Pre-Event – A light, invigorating session designed to prepare your body and mind for your event. This massage is usually scheduled 24 hours before competition.
At-the-Event – This session removes lactic acid buildup and cellular waste, speeds recovery for tired, aching muscles and prepares physically and mentally for the competition.
Post Event – This session focuses on restoring your body to its pre-event condition by reducing recovery time, treating injuries and relaxing muscles. We recommend you receive this work within 48 hours of your competition.
Benefits of a sports massage
The sports massage provides physical as well as psychological benefits to an athlete. The physical benefits are as follows.
It makes the body flexibility. Massage expands muscle tissues in a multidirectional fashion. This also creates a huge impact on the muscular sheath and around ligament which releases stress and pressures in a much better way.
It increases the life cycle of the tissues. In this massage therapy, it helps the tissue membrane microscopic holes to enlarge and allow essential fluids to enter the body. This releases the waste material like lactic acid solution out of the body and which enhances the oxygen level in the body.
Massage improves the circulation of blood to and it also causes vessels of blood to dilate.
The combination of stress and waste materials in a muscle could bring about the feeling of pain. Massage reduces this unpleasant feeling, minimize anxiety and get rid of waste products. In addition, it stimulates the release of endorphins.
Things to keep in mind while taking a Sports Massage
Understand the type of massage
There are different styles of massage and it is very important to understand the type of massage before signing up for the massage. Some of the massages look exotic but it may feel good when you go through them. For example, the Swedish massage is skin moisturizing and a hot stone massage is soothing.
Schedule your massage beforehand
If it is your first time and you have not been to a massage parlor before then schedule your massage appointment beforehand– at least a few weeks prior to the massage day.
Post- competition massage
The massage after the competition could help an athlete in the speedy recovery. So, it is recommended to undergo a massage after the competition is over. The newbies are recommended to wait for few days for the post-competition massage as their muscles may be too sour after the competition.
Inquire about the therapist
Vet your therapist in advance. It is even important to inquire about the therapist for those who are going for the massage for the first time. Ask if she is a beginner or an experienced therapist. If she massages people frequently? According to the experts, a massage therapist should be highly experienced as it will eliminate the chances of errors.
Arrive well hydrated
Dehydration can make the fascia and muscles stiff which leads to a more painful massage. Make sure to inhale adequate amounts of water before hopping on the table. According to Gammal, “Massage does not release or flush out any toxins from the body, which means it won’t dehydrate you. Massage helps with recovery from lactic acid but doesn’t get rid of lactic acid.”
Consume light meal before the massage
Prefer to consume the light meal before the spa and keep the heavy meal after the massage. Overeating before the massage may make you feel crappy.
How Sports Massage Recovers Health and Reduce Risk of Injury
There are various techniques of sports massage therapy that makes this therapy effective for athletes. Some of them are as follows:
Longitudinal gliding is a basic form of massage but it is very effective massage technique administered in the direction of the blood flow. It supports the fluid dispersion from the injury site, and helps in diminishing inflammation and swelling. Moreover, it also helps in relaxing tight muscles.
There are different ways to perform Kneading and is done emphasizing both the hands or a part of a hand, example, thumb kneading and palm kneading. The pressure used should vary according to the purpose of the massage and the bulk of the tissues under treatment. The rhythm and rate of the movement are equally important as the pressure is applied intermittently.
Myofascial release is manual technique for stretching the fascia. The main aim of this technique is to balance the body. Fascia is located between the skin and the underlying structure of muscle and bone. It is a copweb of connective tissue that covers and connects the muscles, organs, and skeletal structures in our body. The factors that can cause the restriction o fascia are injuries, stress, trauma, and poor posture. This very technique also helps to release fascia restriction and restore its tissue.
Trigger Point Therapy
Trigger point therapy is a bodywork technique that involves the applying of pressure to tender muscle tissue in order to relieve pain and dysfunction in other parts of the body. Trigger points are active centres of muscular hyperactivity, and contains acupuncture points. You will also find that your muscular “knots” are commonly trigger points.
Deep Transverse Frictions
Transverse friction is a transverse connective tissue therapy applied directly by the fingers. This technique is used mainly on tendon or ligament injuries to help break down thickened, pain-producing scar tissue. If these lesions are not reduced then the result can be adverse as they are likely to cause further irritation, and degenerate more quickly than before. Transverse frictions use an oscillating pressure applied across the direction of the tissue fibres.
Rhythmic compression is used to create a deep hyperaemia and softening effect in the tissues. It is generally used as a warm-up for deeper, more specific massage work.
Cross-fibre friction techniques creates a stretching and broadening effect in large muscle groups specifically on site-specific muscle and connective tissue, deep transverse friction applied to reduce adhesions and to help create strong, flexible repair during the healing process.
Swedish massage techniques includes long strokes, kneading, friction, tapping, percussion, vibration, effleurage, and shaking motions.
The usual sequence of techniques is:
Effleurage: Gliding strokes with the palms, thumbs and/or fingertips
Petrissage: Kneading movements with the hands, thumbs and/or fingers
Friction: Circular pressures with the palms of hands, thumbs and/or fingers
Vibration: Oscillatory movements that shake or vibrate the body
Percussion: Brisk hacking or tapping
Passive and active movements: Bending and stretching