What is Sports Massage?
Massage is the practice of soft tissue manipulation with physical and sometimes psychological goals in mind.
Massage is a very effective therapy for releasing muscle tension and restoring balance to the musculoskeletal system. Received regularly this can help athletes prevent injuries, which might otherwise be caused by overuse. A constant build-up of tension in the muscles from regular activity may lead to stresses on joints, ligaments, tendons, as well as the muscles themselves. These muscle imbalances may develop and often go undiagnosed until they are serious enough to cause discomfort or impede performance.
At APT, our therapists can detect variations in the soft tissues and by using the correct techniques, help individuals maintain a much healthier physical state.
Athletes who are looking to improve performance and increase their competitive edge do so by adopting a training schedule to enhance their skill, strength, stamina, suppleness and speed. The degree to which they develop and utilise these qualities will depend on other factors such as the level of competition, the sport played, and possibly their position in a team. However, no matter which sport, the aim is almost always to systematically increase the level of training and thereby subject the body to gradual and controlled overuse.
Massage can therefore maintain the body’s general condition, it can prevent injuries and loss of mobility and also restore mobility to injured muscle tissue. A good sport massage regime can boost overall performance and extend the life of one’s participation in sport.
What to expect from Sports Massage at Anatomy Physical Therapy
Following a full consultation, the qualified APT Sports Massage Therapist will determine your sports massage programme that optimizes performances and helps you to reduce the risk of injury. This can be done for an individual or for a team.
A combination of varying massage techniques will be used to permeate the relevant soft tissue injury that has occurred. Where appropriate, this may also be combined with other therapies such as electrotherapy (FSM) to maximize results. Over a period of time you will experience many benefits leading to better and sustained performance in the longer term.
The benefits of Sports Massage at Anatomy Physical Therapy
(a) Physical Benefits
Increased blood flow to muscles – The ‘pumping’ or stroking movements in massage suck fluid through blood vessels and lymph vessels. By increasing the pressure in front of the stroke, a vacuum is created behind. This is especially important in tight or damaged muscle tissue as a tight muscle will squeeze blood out like a sponge, depriving the tissues of vital nutrients and energy to repair.
Increased tissue permeability – Deep massage causes the pores in tissue membranes to open, enabling fluids and nutrients to pass through. This helps remove waste products such as lactic acid and encourage the muscles to take up oxygen and nutrients which help them recover quicker.
Reduction in muscle tension – Massage can stretch tissues that could not be stretched in the usual methods. Bundles of muscle fibres are stretched lengthwise as well as sideways. Massage can also stretch the sheath or fascia that surrounds the muscle, so releasing any tension or pressure build up.
Break down scar tissue - Scar tissue is the result of previous injuries or trauma and can affect muscle, tendons and ligaments. This can lead to inflexible tissues that are prone to injury and pain.
Improve tissue elasticity – Hard training can make tissues hard and inelastic. This is one reason why hard training may not result in improvements. Massage helps reverse this by stretching the tissues.
Opens micro-circulation – Massage does increase blood flow to tissues, but so does exercise. What massage also does is open or dilate the blood vessels and by stretching them this enables nutrients to pass through more easily.
(b) Physiological & Psychological Benefits
Sports massage, as mentioned earlier, also has an impact on physiological and psychological well being of an athlete as well as the physical aspects listed above.
Pain reduction - Tension and waste products in muscles can often cause pain. Massage helps reduce this in many ways including releasing the bodies’ endorphins.
Relaxation – Muscles relax through heat generated, circulation and stretching. Mechanoreceptors which sense touch, pressure, tissue length and warmth are stimulated causing a reflex relaxation.
Anxiety reduction – through the effects mentioned above relaxation is induced and so reduces anxiety levels.
Invigoration – if massage is done with brisk movements such as what would be done before an event then this can produces an invigorating feeling i.e.
- Pre- Event – In preparation for participation / competition
- Post- Event – Aids recover post completion, removes lactic acid, lengthens tight muscles