Sports Massage is an adapted form of Swedish Sports Massage, with similar techniques that are more focused on improving and enhancing the capabilities of the body. Sports Massage has been used since the early 18th century, to prevent injury and help recovery and healing, preventing illness. As well as sportsmen and women, Sports Massage can be helpful for individuals who a lead an active lifestyle and engage in physically demanding activities such as gardening, DIY, housework and casual exercise.
Sports Massage involves the application of deep pressure to release chronic muscle tension. The focus is upon the deepest layers of muscle tissue, tendons and fascia. It is used for several conditions including chronic aches and pains, stiff neck, lower back pain, and tightness in the legs or shoulders. The techniques are like those used in Sports Massage therapy, but movement is slower, and the pressure is deeper. A particular area of tension and/or pain is concentrated on, in order to reach the sub-layers of muscles and fascia (sheet of connective tissue). ‘Adhesions’, painful tight bands of tissue form when there is chronic muscle tension or injury which can affect muscles, tendons and ligaments. These adhesions can cause a restriction of the circulation to the affected area, cause pain and restricted movement. Sports Massage can break down adhesions, giving freer movement and a reduction in pain. Sports Massage encourages the circulation of blood and lymph and lengthens and relaxes the superficial muscles. It can also stimulate the action of peristalsis in the intestine. Micro-tears are created in the fascia which fill with elastin and collagen, giving more flexibility to the muscles. Stretching is important after a session, in order to retrain muscles and prevent a reoccurrence.
A 28-year-old female presented to us with lateral knee pain and swelling which had come on gradually whilst training for a marathon. With a combination of tissue Sports Massage as well as physiotherapy appointments, the patient's symptoms improved after 4 sessions. She continued to attend the clinic for deep tissue appointments in order to reduce tension in the legs as well as help with recovery as the marathon training progressed into longer distances.
A 49-year-old female presented to the clinic with a history of upper back discomfort due to whiplash several years earlier. Having seen the Osteopath to work on improving neck movement, she then continued to see the sports therapist for deep tissue Sports Massage to maintain reduction of upper back tension, as well as working on postural techniques. Here initial pain scale of 5/10 then went down to 2/10.
As you can see, Sports Massage does not just have a physical effect on us, but also a psychological and physiological effect to. Whether it's used as a stand-alone treatment or part of a treatment plan, there are many positive effects that we can all benefit from.
Sports massage uses slow but firm pressure strokes targeted on a specific tissue to break up scar adhesions and knots that may be causing tension, pain or dysfunction. By stimulating the flow of blood and lymphatic drainage around muscles, sports massage works to release toxins and facilitate the removal of waste from the muscular system. As a result, the body is then able to recover overload or injury and heal faster; by reducing toxins and inflammation, it directly decreases pain. The mechanical pressure applied during a sports massage is enough to block the relay of messages sent by nerves to and from the brain that allow us to feel pain, therefore pain is reduced according to the pain gate theory.
In addition, further benefits are provided as a result of deep pressure strokes releasing endorphins that have been shown to be as powerful as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Headaches can be triggered by tight soft tissues which surround the base of the skull, cervical spine and jaw. Tightness in muscles such as the masseter muscle or the suboccipital can create pressure that causes headaches to occur. Sports Massage is a helpful treatment to release the muscles which are tight to provide pressure relief.
can sometimes be caused by tension in the muscles that attach to the cervical spine; in some cases, like whiplash, this tension is caused by a sudden traumatic incident. Sports Massage can be used relieve muscular tension in order to treat neck pain conditions and specifically, trigger point techniques have been shown to be particularly effective to reduce neck in just one session.
Shoulder Pain can sometimes be caused by repetitive strain injuries. Muscles that are overworked can become too tight and the fibres shorten, placing a greater load on the tendons that attach the muscles to the shoulder joint. Due to overload, these tendons become inflamed painful. Sports Massage techniques such as myofascial release can be used to loosen and lengthen muscles, which will offload the tendons and help to reduce inflammation and pain.
Pain in the elbow or forearm can sometimes indicate medial epicondylitis; commonly known as golfers' elbow, this sports injury commonly occurs when too much repetitive force is used to bend the palm of the hand towards the wrist. As a result, the tendons that attach the wrist flexors to the medial aspect of the elbow joint become irritated and inflamed. Sports massage can be used to help this condition and friction massage directly to the muscles and tendons will help to facilitate the healing process.
Mid back pain is common in athletes when they overuse or strain muscles in the area. Muscles can start to feel tense and stiff as a result of toxins accumulating, therefore any treatment which can help with the removal of these toxins will be beneficial. Cupping is a negative pressure sports massage technique which causes muscle fibres to expand and separate, encouraging toxins to be released more rapidly.
Research shows Lower back pain is associated with poor posture specifically in individuals who sit for long periods working desk-based jobs. Due to being inactive and immobile for long periods, muscles can seize up and become stiff and bad posture alignment can create a strain on some muscles that work to stabilise the spine whilst sitting. Sports Massage can improve blood circulation, allowing muscles to loosen and relax which can ease lower back pain.
When soft tissues around the hip joint become tight, they can put pressure on other structures, causing irritation, inflammation and ultimately Hip Pain. An example of this is hip bursitis caused commonly by repetitive strain exercises like running, cycling or walking. Sports massage is a good treatment used to release the tight soft tissues in order to reduce the pressure around the hip bursa, with the aim of decreasing irritation and pain.
Sports Massage therapy can be used to treat Knee Pain when tight muscles are creating pressure within the joint. In runners particularly knee pain commonly occurs when the quadriceps tighten and shorten, pulling on the quadriceps tendon which compress the patella, causing it to rub on the joint below. Releasing the quadriceps to lengthen the muscle fibres will decrease the compression and minimise and friction on the joint.
Foot and Ankle Pain can also be treated with Sports Massage. Rolfing and myofascial release are useful techniques to loosen and realign the fibres of the plantar fascia as well as the muscles of the lower leg to treat plantar fasciitis, which is a common repetitive strain injury of the foot.