What is Sports Massage Therapy?
Sports massage therapy is a form of therapy involving the manipulation of soft tissue to benefit an individual that has the need to correct problems and imbalances in the musculoskeletal system of the body. Soft tissues that are worked on during sports massage therapy include skin, muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia. This form of therapy can enhance performance, accelerate recovery and prevent injury.
Sports massage therapy was originally developed to relieve and prevent injuries in athletes, but nowadays both athletes and non-athletes are enjoying the physical, physiological and psychological benefits of sports massage therapy.
Three Key Principles of Sports Massage
There are 3 specific principles of sports massage. These principles are vital in understanding the type of massage that an individual require at any given time. The 3 principles are "when, what and why" of sports massage therapy.
1. Timing (When)
2. Technique (What)
3. Intent (Why)
Timing – this refers to WHEN the massage is given, is it Pre-exercise or post-exercise, or during recovery, maintenance or rehabilitation period?
Technique – this refers to WHAT type of application is utilized. A professional sports massage therapist will have many different techniques at his or her disposal. Some of these techniques include – compression, frictions, broad strokes, trigger pointing or neuromuscular technique, an array of stretching methods, increasing range of motion, vibrations, shaking along with the more classic massage techniques such as effleurage and petrissage.
Intent – this refers to the reason(s) (WHY) for the treatment. To increase blood flow to the injured tissues, stimulate neurological pathways, improve muscle strength, increase flexibility or improve posture.
Benefits of Sport Massage Therapy
Sport massage therapy has a lot of benefits these include physical and physiological benefits. It can help to maintain the body fitness, prevent injuries and loss of flexibility, it can help to restore normal function to injured muscle tissue, enhance performance and improve overall experience of sporting activities.
Increase blood flow: The stroking movements in massage therapy increase the flow of blood and lymph through the blood vessels and lymphatic vessels respectively. This is very important in tight or damaged muscle tissue as these muscles need vital nutrients and energy to regain its normal function.
Increased tissue permeability – massage therapy enables the pores in muscle tissues to open, thereby ensuring that oxygen and nutrients get to the core of the muscle which helps the muscles to recover faster. Increased tissue permeability also helps us move in our day to day activity, the less permeable our muscles the less mobile we become. Aside of having a regular sports massage we should be aiming to do a daily exercise and stretch routine to ensure that we can move as well as possible.
Stretching – massage therapy helps in stretching bundles of muscle fibres that are not easily stretched. Muscle tissues are stretched lengthwise as well as sideways during massage thereby releasing any pressure build up. It can also be used in stretching fascia surrounding the muscles.
Break down scar tissue – muscle, tendons and ligaments can become inflexible due to formation of scar tissue that resulted from previous injuries or trauma. These inflexible muscles, tendons and ligaments are prone to injury and pain. Sport massage therapy helps to reduce the amount of scar tissue by trying to realign the muscle fibres in a more uniform state, an injury left untreated will often re-injure at a later date due to the fact it hasn’t been rehabilitated correctly.
Improve tissue elasticity – regular, repetitive and strenuous physical activity can make tissues hard and inelastic. Massage therapy can help in restoring these inelastic tissues to normal function by stretching them.
Pain reduction – pain can result from accumulation of waste products in muscles and tension build up. Message therapy helps in reducing muscle pain by increase the removal of waste products from the muscles, relieving the tension build up and enhancing secretion of hormones.
Relaxation – during massage, mechanoreceptors are stimulated causing a reflex relaxation. Muscles also relax through improve circulation and muscle stretching that occurs during massage therapy.
Book a free sports massage consultation today and come and have a chat with our professional sports therapists – 07542 367 102 / www.bodysolve.co.uk/bookings