Sports Massage for the Active Person
Our resident Sports Massage Therapist, Anna Wright, answers your questions and more!
Why do we require massage and what benefits will you get from a Sports Massage?
Professional athletes have regular sports massage as they strive to improve their performance. This is for a number of reasons:
- To reduce risk of injury by breaking down adhesions
- To maintain flexibility
- To flush out waste products of heavy exercise
- To decrease localised swelling if an injury has occurred
Massage will help in reducing scar tissue and speed up recovery time.
The physical & brutal collisions in sport mean injuries are inevitable. If we think specifically about rugby; all the tackling, rucking and scrumming, hitting the ground and smashing into one another lead players to become injured. Injury can also happen in other activities that involve running and jumping and lifting and carrying, and overuse injuries are all common in all physical activities.
Muscular and soft tissue injuries are most common.
When an injury occurs, players want to regain their strength and flexibility as soon as possible.
The repairing of damaged muscle tissue results in scarring. Scar tissue is fibrous and bulky tissue, which is so tough that it can be as hard as bone. If this area around the injured site continues has reduced flexibility it may affect the player’s function as that area will demonstrate limited range. The muscles and tissues will not be able to glide next to each other as smoothly as they should, as the scar tissue will cause them to fuse together.
What does this mean for our active person?
The result of scarring may mean a loss of Power, Strength, Flexibility and a risk of further injury in the same area.
Without treatment, the tissue in the injured site may never be as strong. Untreated scar tissue can be a common cause of re-injury, often weeks after it is thought that total recovery was achieved.
Deep tissue massage techniques will break down these tough fibrous tissues, and if achieved in a timely manner after the injury, it can stop these cells binding and causing adhesions. Certain techniques are used to break down fibrous tissue into smaller particles and remove the unwanted waste products through the lymphatic system. This system is a vital mechanism of clearing the body of toxins and waste products.
Can massage increase general circulation?
Massage helps pump blood and lymph around the body. If the fluid is pumped in an upward direction towards the heart, the force of this movement creates a suction space behind it that is immediately filled with fresh oxygenated, nutrient rich blood. This oxygenated blood is full of the ingredients that we need for growth and recovery.
Massage can reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and prevent injury.
After a tough match or training session when the muscles have been worked hard, a pain message is sent to your brain telling you that your muscles are sore and painful. This is due to the byproduct heavy exercise called lactic acid. Massage soon after exercising can help to remove this acid and other waste products.
A massage therapist can help to identify where more attention is needed in an individual’s training program.
Massage therapists are trained to recognise tightness in certain muscles, therefore advise can be given on stretching those areas. They can also identify micro-trauma from over-training (training above the bodies capacity to cope with load) and in this case, recovery strategies can be discussed. Overall these skills will help to avoid future injuries.
Often when we are experiencing pain due to ‘tight muscles’ it is due to weakness and over working of those muscles. Function will be affected in a bid to avoid further pain but this may result in further injury to another part of the body. Massage will help stimulate muscles and then exercises can be given to build strength where needed to allow the body to work better as one unit.
Massage can instantly make someone feel relaxed and improve sleep.
The feeling of relaxation reduces stress and anxiety. By releasing tension in the soft tissues then balance can be reinstated to the body, this can improve many conditions such as high blood pressure, migraines, stress, and anxiety, and it can also improve sleep. More sleep means better recovery as when we sleep growth hormones are released allowing the body to fix itself.
Should you feel any of the advice above will be relevant to you, please contact Bristol Physio and we will arrange an appointment with Anna so you can help your overall recovery.