Sports massage is manual therapy designed to reduce muscular tension and pain.
The body has a large amount of what we refer to as soft tissue (this is the tissue that has not hardened into bone or cartilage, it is made up of skin, muscle, tendons, ligaments and fascia (the tissue that surrounds all of these).
A sports massage therapist utilises deeper tissue techniques including the following:
- Swedish style Effleurage
- Petrissage (kneading)
- Tapotement (rhythmic striking)
- Trigger Pointing
- STR Soft Tissue Release
- MET Muscle energy techniques (sometimes referred to as PNF stretching)
Originally developed to help athletes perform better and recover faster during competition it has been found to offer many benefits to the wider public as well.
For athletes and gym goers, sports massage helps improve performance and recovery from injury when applied regularly.
In general population, sports massage benefits include:
- Muscular and joint injury recovery improvements (muscle strains and sprains etc).
- Postural related pain – Lifestyles often include prolonged positions such as desk work that weaken our muscles leading to pain.
- Headaches – Caused by tension in the shoulders, upper back and neck
- Whiplash – Scar tissue from the sudden jolt causes pain.
- Golfers / Tennis elbow – Tendons of the elbow get irritated and inflamed due to imbalances in the muscles of the forearms.
- Repetitive strain injuries – repeated load on a single joint or limb can cause inflammation.
- Back Pain – Most back pain is caused by muscular imbalances caused by strains or muscle imbalances.
- Stress Relief – Although not technically a pain, stress and anxiety can cause muscular pain that needs relieving.
So how does it work?
Sports massage works by releasing blood from the muscle fibres, this flushes toxins, chemical irritants and other waste products that regularly build up in the body over time (more so in the physically active) and flooding the tissue with fresh blood and oxygen to help improve repair and recovery thus removing muscle tension.
Tight muscles often trigger pain by trapping against the bodies nerve endings, these ‘trigger points’, whilst often causing pain in the immediate area, can also create what is known as ‘referred pain’ in another part of the body along the same nerve pathway.
Trigger point compression can be instrumental in releasing this pain. With regards to stress relief, there is no science to back this up, however patients often claim to feel lighter and less anxious/stressed after treatment. This is very likely a combination of the experience of human touch in conjunction with released muscle stress.
Athletes benefit from sports massage with accelerated healing and recovery from injury. Faster muscle recovery post event with the influx of fresh blood and oxygen.
A reduction in muscle soreness and long term an improvement in joint mobility and performance.
Want to try a sports massage? Get in touch to book.