Sports Massage – Who Gets it?
Sports Massage is an expanding field. Its broadening appeal is the result of an aging and more exercise-conscious population. Certain types of work may also benefit from Sports Massage, even though ‘sports’ is not an accurate moniker for the activities: Musicians, construction workers, dancers, assembly-line workers can all have harmful, strenuous and repetitive loads on their musculo-skeletal systems.
With aging, active people will find muscular elasticity dwindling, as does muscular recovery time from hard or over use. Many other of the body’s systems are generally working more slowly and less efficiently the older we get. A sensible, balanced approach to your fitness is necessary. Whilst it is imperative that we exercise our bodies (and minds) to stay vital and strong, it can make sense to back off a little – and consider that Sports massage becomes more and more a valuable adjunct.
Clients will usually end up in a Sports Massage clinic as a result of either a prescription from a physician, or on their own self-advisement or that of a sports coach or trainer.
A doctor’s prescription will be quite specific, with a diagnosis of a problem (perhaps a sports or over-use injury) and instructions to the sports therapist. Self-advisement is simply that you feel you’d like to give your body the best chances for performance, maintaining comfort, and injury prevention (Facilitated stretching is invaluable for this and can be a wonderful part of ‘maintenance’ deep massage). If you are at the sports massage therapist for an injury or complaint without a doctor’s prescription, beware that the therapist is not allowed, by law, to make a diagnosis and they are not allowed to ‘treat’ a client on their own initiative. Tempting as it is you should not go to a massage therapist of any kind with the idea that it is any kind of a substitute for a physician’s care.
For more serious performance athletes, the value of sports massage is now well recognized by coaches and trainers – indeed, massage therapists are often part of the training/coaching effort. Pre-event, post-event and ‘maintenance’ massage are fast becoming a normal part of athletic training. Reducing ‘down-time’, increasing post-event recovery time, rehabilitating injuries and increasing ease of movement are just some of the benefits of Sports Massage at the performance level. Additionally, the sports massage therapist can advise on ‘homework’ for the athlete, such as stretching, or common-sense injury-reducing care, such as treating recent soft tissue injuries with PRICE – Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.
In the next issue I will discuss what to expect in a Sports Massage.
Hamish and Rochelle.