Sports Massage – Events and Training?
While ‘sports’ massage can be for anybody with an active repetitive leisure or professional lifestyle, this post covers sports people…weekend warriors, professional athletes and generally anyone in the ‘performance’ sports bracket.
There are four specific times when sports massage therapists are of value to performance athletes:
1) Training Massage. The massage therapist starts the session with a vigorous effleurage in order to warm up muscles and get the blood circulation pumping in order to relax muscles, mind, and engorge stressed muscle tissues. Although effleurage is a ‘surface’ Swedish stroke – usually related to the longer, gentler spreading of oil or lotion on the body generally going along the direction of the muscle fibers. In sports massage there should be little or no oil or lotion at all. The strokes will be shorter, cross-fiber sometimes, with at least enough pressure to affect the surface muscles (to start with). Some friction, and short-frequency, vibration strokes may also be used.
As the body responds by loosening up, the training massage with proceed to deeper layers in order to detach adhesions, align muscle fibers and release and loosen fascia. the hoped-for results will be increased range of motion and greater potential for muscular performance.
2) Pre-Event Massage. This should be a light preparatory massage to prepare the athlete mentally as much as physically for an athletic event. A deep massage would be counter-productive here because always a deep massage requires some physiological recovery time even from the most beneficial of massages.
Think of a warm-up time for the muscles. Friction strokes, jostling, pressure will all bring warming life-giving energy to the muscles and get the athlete ‘psyched-up’ for the event.
3) Post-Event Massage. Athletic performance will create lactic acid build-up and toxins in and around the muscles. After an important cool-down period (slowly working down the intensity of the competition by walking around, shaking limbs etc.) gentle massage and facilitated movement will help to increase blood flow and therefore flush out those toxins and remove those lactic acids. Spasmed muscles, or those with that potential, will also benefit. Overall, the entire musk-skeletal system benefits from the relaxation and return to homeostasis brought-on by post-event massage. Most importantly, the athlete will be more ready for his next event if he leaves this one in great shape.
Injuries can occur in evens – from strains to sprains, micro tears in muscle fibers or even falls causing more serious damage. In more serious cases, care must be taken in post-event massage not to work on an injured athlete unless a proper diagnosis has been provided by a higher medical-care authority.
Spasmed muscles can be relaxed with gentler, passive techniques, while more active techniques can increase range of motion. Some common-sense exercises can be discussed with the athlete t help with recovery and prepare for the next event – also helping with prevention of future injuries.
Hamish and Rochelle