Sports Massage, what is it and how does it help?
Sports massage is a form of deep tissue massage that is mostly focussed on releasing tension and breaking down muscular adhesions brought about by physical activity. Inter-training/maintenance sports massage is key to preventing muscle imbalance and injury.
Muscle adhesions, also known as ‘knots’ commonly occur where there is greater demand or stress on that part of the muscle. During exercise, our muscle fibres tear – especially when pushing ourselves harder. The body then heals, producing stronger and additional muscle fibres. It is during this healing process that the fibres ‘glue’ together forming a tight bundle. I often describe this as being similar to when cooking spaghetti and the strands clump together. This leads to an in-efficient muscle as the individual fibres are unable to fully contract or stretch out. Furthermore, blood flow to the area becomes restricted, reducing oxygen and nutrient delivery and removal of waste products.
Sports massage allpies pressure to the muscles and soft tissue in a way that separates those adheised fibers, increases blood flow and lymphatic drainage. The muscle fibers are also streteched transversly (side to side) rather than pulled end to end, like we do in stretching.
Post-event/recovery massage (0-24 hours) can also be beneficial. The pressures applied are modified to provide a soothing effleurage to tired muscles. The aim is to flush away waste products through the promotion of blood and lymphatic flow. Fresh oxygen and nutrients vital for repair and replenishing are also brought into the muscle.
Please note that there are some common misunderstandings of sports massage:
"Sports Massage is only for sports people" - This is not true. Sports massage can be applied to any individual. The beauty of sports massage is that is combines an array of techniques which should be adapted to suyit the individual.
"Sports Massage is really painful, to the point of making you cry" - Again, this is most certainly not the goal of sports massage. There may be practitioners out there who do feel the need to use extreemly high pressures in order to acheive a better outcome but I certainly do not take this view. All techniques are performed to your tolerance and intuition is used to feel how the body is responding to treatment.