Wednesday, 23 March 2016
After a day's hard work, your muscles can get wound up and tighten considerably. With the help of regular sports massage, these tired, "sticking" spots can loosen up, allowing you to get back on sports and other day-to-day activities you have for the week. The question is- what exactly is a sports massage, and how is it different from other types of massage?
A sports massage isn't quite the same as a regular spa, or a deep tissue massage, though they essentially do the same. More specifically, a sports massage can make use of deep tissue techniques in line with some basic massage techniques. Sports massage is a complete massage system that builds upon the most important basic techniques in massage, enhanced with advanced deep tissue techniques and some other holistic ones. It should also be a worthy note that these techniques are required to restore the smooth functions of your bodies' muscle complex.
Muscles and Performance
The muscle's tightness and amount of strain is significant for performance athletes on a wide range of sports. Consider the cyclist- whenever their quads and ITB tighten up, they experience excruciating pain and their cycling cadence degrades. If left unchecked, their knee may develop some permanent problems over time. Runners and tight hamstrings are a bad combination- the shorter the stride, the lower the performance. Swimmers and tight shoulders also lose out on stroke with swimmers on the same level.
It can't be helped. Our muscles are constantly tensing and relaxing as we train, along with the joints, tendons and ligaments. The constant stress puts our body at a greater risk to injury and a lower performance. All athletes can experience emotional, mental and physical stress just before a major sports event. Training your muscle to its utmost limit may produce excellent results, but you also risk a build up of lactate in your blood, increase fatigue and overall muscle tension, which isn't good.
The best performing muscles are the ones that are relaxed, on their optimal length, and well-rested. This is the state where your muscles produce their best work. Tense and tight muscles are uncooperative and fight for space with other muscles moving in the opposite direction.
Strokes and Techniques
Sports massage is entirely based on an athlete's anatomy in order to release the "knots", or trigger points in tight muscles, DOMS, or muscle soreness, prevention of injury and enable a faster muscle recovery. Sports massage is great for the following muscle problems:
- Fasciitis Plantaris
- Shin Pain
- Golfer's Elbow
- Tennis Elbow
- ITB Pain
Muscle Strains and Muscle Pain
Sports massage utilizes a range of modalities such as deep tissue work, cross-fiber techniques, trigger point therapy and remedial massages. There are around 5 classic Swedish massage techniques that make up the sports massage- jostling/vibration, tapotement, friction, petrissage and effleurage. These classic strokes are modified to target more specific muscles, but are used in classical sequence (petrissage before friction, etc etc.), and incorporated with other basic massage techniques.
Trigger Point Therapy
A type of deep tissue massage where the tender, painful knots or the nodules in the muscles are targeted. These knots can affect the surrounding muscles within their area, causing pain and discomfort. Direct pressure is applied until the trigger points soften and the knots are unraveled. Trigger Point Therapy is beneficial for those who are suffering from chronic pain, and those who are experiencing a restriction in their muscles' range of motion caused by stiff and short muscles.
"Remedy" is the keyword for this kind of therapy. The skilled modality's function is to find a remedy, no matter the massage technique. Any or all massage modalities are used to treat imbalances, dysfunctions in any tissue in the body.
Myofascial Release Therapy
"Myo" means muscle tissue, while "Fascia" refers to the connective tissues in the body. As anatomists might say, the human body is connected by all sorts of connective tissue, acting as a skeleton of packed, woven muscles, much like a spider web. The connective tissues holds our bodies together and keeps it that way. Myosfascial Release Therapy was created to alleviate deep-seated tension and stress in the fascia, allowing for a greater movement and muscle freedom when used.
Sports Massage Benefits
Sports massage can also be thought of as a subset of physiotherapy. The benefits that it can bring you are many, including:
-Increases the awareness of the body through healing touch. Sports massage will reveal the exact spot of soreness or tightness in the body.
-Lengthens our muscles, allowing for a greater range of mobility, elasticity and flexibility. A more relaxed muscle is less prone to sports-related or strenuous physical activity.
-Aids in muscle healing and recovery. There's a less likely chance of strains, ruptures or micro-trauma tearing happening as when the muscles are tired and wound too tight.
-Brings back a healthy flow of blood throughout our system. Life-giving blood flows to the lymph and interstitial fluids and the heart, making the organs function better than before. Lactic acid buildup is released in the best way possible, and you get an optimized flow of both blood and oxygen to deliver needed nutrients to tissues, cells and muscles.
-Keeps optimal performance in athletes. Those who engage in regular sports massage will be able to run faster, leap higher and swim better.
-Improves muscle tone and overall flexibility. The soft tissues are stimulated, thereby reducing muscle pain and cramping, alleviating trigger points and muscle spasms.
-Loosens the adhesions and local swelling between muscles, minimizing the occurrence of chronic scar tissue.
-Massage therapy reduces mental stress and enhances our capacity for clear thinking and creativity.
-Provides a healthy dose of feel-good endorphins, which acts as our body's natural painkiller.
Sports massage is the answer for active individuals who often partake in strenuous physical activities, whether you are an elite sportsman or playing just for fun. Sports massage is widely available and is non-restrictive, meaning anyone can experience it, even non-athletes! Sports massage is most effective when used in conjunction before or after athletic events. It can bring in a much-needed boost in performance before the event, or provide a means to restore the athlete's performance when used after. People who are looking to enhance their overall well-being or wish to cure their soft tissue chronic pain can also avail of a sports massage. The physiotherapists will be able to tell you which particular muscle is behaving, and how to make fine adjustments to improve your lifestyle.