Sports massage uses hands-on techniques to manipulate the muscles, tendons and ligaments in the body. Sports massage works to improve the efficiency of the musculoskeletal system and is increasingly popular amongst sports performers and anyone with sore and stiff muscles caused by stress, sitting behind the desk etc.
Sports Massage separates soft tissues that are stuck together – and often they no longer feel soft but very hard, stiff and sore. Muscles (and the fascia that surround them) become stuck after injury, misuse, lack of use, stress and tension. Sports massage can soften such hardened tissue, and can restore movement and mobility around joints that have become stiff and painful.
There are four main types of treatment within sports massage:
- Pre-event massage (before a high-intensity activity)
- Post-event massage (after a high-intensity activity)
- Maintenance massage
- Injury treatment
The purpose of the Pre-event massage is to prepare the athlete for high-intensity activity. As the name suggests, it is best practised just before an competition/event and the massage is performed at a fast, brisk pace – though not too deep – to get your muscles ready.
The purpose of the post-event sports massage is to help the athlete to recover from their high-intensity exercise. The pace of this massage is slow, rhythmical and gentle.
This type of massage takes place in between training sessions and the aim is to work on specific elements and tissue structures which have become shortened, tight and painful. The idea is to loosen off tightness within soft tissues so as to improve performance and prevent injury. A variety of techniques can be used, ranging from deep tissue work, Trigger Point therapy and mobilisation of joints, to specific stretching and strengthening. A typical sports maintenance massage can last from between 30 minutes to an hour and is a very helpful regular addition to a training propgramme.
Sports massage can also be used to treat specific soft tissue injuries and a wide variety of techniques and methods can be used to reduce the recovery time and help get you back on track. This type of treatment can last from between 30 minutes to an hour, dependent on the injury.
Injuries are common and do cause set backs to training and if not treated quickly and efficiently. Secondary tension can build up around the injured tissues without you knowing. This then leads to further problems known as the overuse syndrome. This means tissues cannot work efficiently or lengthen properly and can quickly lead to localised pain and discomfort and also problems elsewhere. At Sports Massage Christchurch we can find and feel and treat these areas to ensure no further damage is caused and that training can be resumed as soon as possible
Benefits of Sports Massage:
- Improves circulation and aids the lymphatic system
- Aids recovery both after events and injuries
- Improves performance (tense muscles are weak and inefficient)
- Reduces risk of injury (tight muscles and tendons are more prone to injury)
- Breaks down adhesions and scar tissue which can negatively affect tissue function
- Removes lactic acid and waste products which may cause muscle fatigue
- Improves tissue flexibility (massage stretches tissue in ways the conventional stretching can’t)
- Stimulates the nervous system (aids relaxation, reduces tension both physically and emotionally)
Regular sports massage can:
- Reduce the chance of injury through proper stretching and event preparation
- Improve range of motion and muscle flexibility, resulting in improved power and performance
- Shorten recovery time between workouts
- Maximize the supply of nutrients and oxygen through increased blood flow
- Enhance elimination of metabolic by-product of exercise
Is sports massage just for sports people?
Definitely not! Sports massage is helpful for anyone looking for a deep tissue massage that soothes, eases, and mobilises the muscles – rather than solely stroking the skin. A common misconception is that sports massage is only for sports people – it’s not! Whilst it’s invaluable to athletes who might need pre- and post- massage to either loosen, repair or refresh sore, aching limbs; sports massage is also ideal for those who don’t necessarily play sports, but perhaps sit in the same position for long periods, or carry out repetitive tasks. It can restore stiff, sore muscles to ones that move with pain-free ease; giving freedom from pain and discomfort.
When should sports massage be avoided?
Sports massage can be extremely effective in preparing an athlete for exercise as well as a recovery aid; however, there are instances where massage can be detrimental. Usually, massage should be avoided if the athlete is suffering from an illness or infection or has been diagnosed with a serious health condition such as cancer or haemophilia. Massage is usually not advisable for those who suffer with diabetes.