What is Sports Massage and what can it do to help you?
Sports massage is a type of therapeutic treatment that can be beneficial for anyone (sporty or non-sporty) who may be suffering from muscle tension, pain, injury or reduced flexibility. A common misconception is that it is only appropriate for athletes, this however is not the case. It can also be effective for people suffering from day-to-day aches and pains, helping to decrease stress, muscular tension, ‘knots’ or adhesions alongside reducing recovery time from injury. Sports massage increases blood supply, range of motion and aids lymphatic drainage which can help boost the immune system. It also releases endorphins, the happy hormone, which is highly beneficial for relaxation after a long, busy week and reducing symptoms of pain.
If you are an athlete, a demanding training regime can decrease elasticity within the muscles and cause micro-strains and tissue adhesions where the muscle fibres become misaligned or ‘knotted’. This can affect performance and may be one reason why a tough training programme may not result in the desired improvements quickly. Sports massage realigns the muscle fibres, stretches the tissue and reduces tension and waste products that can build up within the muscle and can lead to pain.
A sedentary lifestyle, perhaps at work, can also result in muscular aches. This can be the result of ‘postural fatigue’. Sitting at a desk for a prolonged period of time can result in the muscles becoming tired and therefore tight. Your core muscles will only hold your posture for a certain amount of time, after this the superficial muscles, used primarily for movement have to ‘kick in’ and take over the strain. Again they can only do this for a finite amount of time (and unfortunately they fatigue a lot quicker). The continuous muscle contraction used to hold your posture decreases blood supply and in turn reduces the ability to flush out waste products and provide nutrition to the tissue. That’s when you may start to feel that dull ache between your shoulder blades, across your shoulders or at the base of your spine. Sports massage works on the deep and superficial layers of muscle to reduce this tension and improve circulation.
When shouldn’t you see a sports massage therapist?
If you have recently suffered from a sporting injury or muscle strain, it is recommended that you wait at a minimum of 5 days before seeking treatment. In this acute stage, take the time to rest, ice and elevate the injured area wherever possible, and use a compression bandage to reduce swelling
What are the side effects?
Like with Osteopathy and Dry needling, the main side effect with sports massage can be muscle soreness, fatigue, redness, and possibly swelling. However, good technique will help to minimise the side effects and they commonly disappear within 24-48 hours post treatment.