Sports Massage is a treatment that has a misleading name and is often not well understood.
1. Sports Massage is not just for sporty people.
Sports massage is actually a clinical massage that can benefit anyone whether they are active or not. By clinical massage I mean it’s a massage that is focussed on the outcome of the treatment rather than the experience itself. That outcome could be easier movement, relief from muscular pain, improved posture or stress relief. Typically there is more talking during the treatment, you may be asked to move around, even stand up, as the therapist works with you to achieve that outcome. The benefits are not necessarily felt during the treatment but at some point later, often that evening or the next day.
2. Sports Massage doesn’t have to hurt.
The saying ‘no pain, no gain’ is often associated with Sports Massage as shortened sensitive muscles are often tender to touch and hyper sensitive. This is especially true with ‘over use’ injuries where the muscle has microscopic tears in the fibres from over loading the muscle or repetitive action. Sometimes clients describe ‘good pain’ where it hurts but feels good and necessary at the same time. However a skilled therapist will always work within your tolerances and if you’re not able to relax through the treatment it can be counter productive.
3. Sports Massage isn’t just a massage.
As already mentioned this massage has a clinical approach and is great where the client has an outcome needed rather than wanting a particular experience on the massage table. Whilst massage will obviously be a significant part of the treatment there are other techniques that may form part of the treatment such as:
- Assessment, for example checking how far you can comfortably rotate your head.
- Consultation – looking at causes and getting a better understanding of why things are the way they are.
- Self help – discussing actions that can be taken in between treatments to help.
- Facilitated stretching techniques such as Myofascial Release, MET or PNF.
- Neuromuscular techniques and Trigger point work.
4. Sports Massage is great for people who sit a lot.
As already stated this treatment isn’t just for active people. Over half our clients have muscular aches and pains attributed to long hours seated at work, too much time on the computer or phone, or stress and anxiety. These can have a similar effect on the muscles – causing shortening, a reduction in mobility and ultimately pain. Long hours at the computer or driving a taxi can in fact sometimes be more detrimental than jobs that involve hours standing or lifting.
5. Sports Massage is great when nothing is ‘wrong’.
A regular sports massage is a great way to counter some of the everyday stresses we place our bodies under. The human body is designed to tolerate a great deal – which allows us to continue our daily lives only becoming aware once things begin to hurt or we injure ourselves. Sports massage can help raise your awareness of how your body is working, where there are restrictions in movement, poor postural habits or compensations. Having a monthly massage can help stop issues before they become acute and more difficult to treat so it’s well worth a regular massage even when nothing feels ‘wrong’.
Mark Alexander is a Massage Therapist and Blogger at Natural Balance Therapies in Brighton & Hove. You can read more about him here.