Sports massage no longer resembles the post-match 'rub-down' that Bobby Moore was familiar with; these therapists are among the most highly trained in physiology with a wide range of approaches to help anyone from occasional gym members to professional athletes.
In fact sports and remedial massage treats anything to do with soft tissue, i.e. your muscles, tendons, ligaments or connective tissue, so postural problems can also be treated as well.
What is Sports Massage good for?
- Maintaining or increasing your range of motion and flexibility.
- Shortening the time an injury takes to heal.
- Deactivating trigger points that form after trauma.
- Helping you get back into training sooner with less chance of re-injury.
- Reducing swelling and oedema
- Helping to soften scar tissue
What happens in a Sports Massage session?
You can expect to be asked for your medical history, along with the story of your injury, as well as any fitness goals or up-coming competitions. You will usually keep your sports kit or underwear on and the assessment includes postural analysis, an assessment of your muscle tissue and range of movement. The massage will be different depending on the goal.
- Preparation for events – this light, fast paced massage will supplement your warm-up and help you get focused for your event. This will take between 10 and 20 minutes.
- Maintenance – massage in between training to improve muscle tone and flexibility in tight muscle groups which helps to prevent injuries. This takes 30 minutes to an hour.
- Recovery after performance - this slow, calming treatment with long strokes reduces spasm and metabolic build-up and helps to bring you down from the high of performance. It takes 15-20 minutes.
- Healing after injury due to overuse – specific treatment for affected areas. This takes 30 minutes to an hour.
The massage will usually be confined to the specific area unless the root cause is located elsewhere (for example an issue with your hip can create pain in your knee). The techniques will depend on the purpose and the therapist and might include some of the following;
- Trigger point and deep tissue
- Passive stretching
- Friction to separate muscle fibers
- Cross fiber work
- Myofascial release
In most cases you will be given a treatment plan with exercises to achieve and maintain good mobility. Sports massage will feel intense; compared to a Swedish massage it's pretty full on, but it shouldn't be painful. Any good therapist will be watching for cues and asking about how your body feels, so there's no need to suffer unnecessarily. You will probably feel a bit sore in the day after your treatment and see improvement to your symptoms after that.
Who should go?
Anyone who prefers a massage with brisk focus on the immediate problem will like sports and remedial massage. Sports massage is unique in that it specialises in problems occurring at the junction of muscles and tendons.
Who shouldn't go?
If you have an acute injury or inflammation you will need to wait at least 72 hours for the swelling and pain to diminish, before you can get massage in the affected area. There are other times you shouldn't get sports or remedial massage and you certainly will not want anyone to touch you if you have:
- Open wounds
- A muscle or tendon rupture
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- High blood pressure
- Varicose veins
- Serious illness
- Or anything you are not sure about which needs diagnosis
If you want to find out if sports massage will help check out www.sportsinjuryclinic.net. It has an excellent symptom checker which will give you an idea of what's causing the pain and how to treat it.