Having suffered my own injuries through sports and other activities, I wanted to be able to help those who have suffered like me; driving me to become a Sports Therapist. At University I gained the knowledge and skills to be a Sports Therapist, which includes massage techniques and rehabilitation. This blog gives a helpful introduction to what I do as a Sports Massage Therapist.

Overview 

Sports Massage involves the manipulation of the soft tissues and is designed to assist in correcting problems and imbalances caused by repetitive movements and physical activity. Treatments are important in helping with pre and post exercise, recovery and preventing injury to the musculoskeletal system.  

Massage has an abundance of benefits, not only physiologically but psychologically as well. Some of these include reducing stress, improving blood flow which provides essential nutrients, and also aids in the removal of waste products like Carbon Dioxide. Sports Massage in the UK has increased in its popularity since the 1990s, and many forms of physical therapy are used all around the world today. 

Healing and pain 

How long will it take me to get better?’ is a question I am often asked. Healing is a complex and amazing phenomenon that our bodies can do. Watson’s Healing Guide gives a clear time scale of each of the healing stages and suggests that healing completely may take from a week to years. This is different for each individual and can depend on many variables. Some include; how much and what tissues have been injured, age, lifestyle, rehabilitation and the mindset of the individual. 

Why does this injury hurt so much?’ is another common question I hear. Pain is often an onset of muscle spasm, physical trauma, infection, immobilisation and emotional tension. When dealing with patients’ pain it is important to be aware that it can be very sensitive, therefore I may have to change my techniques, positioning when treating and the pressure applied. Injury and inactivity can cause muscles to lose their elasticity and mobility, which can lead to adhered muscle and in some cases scar tissue, and this is where Sports Massage can help to improve this.  

(It is important to note that it is normal for parts of the massage to be uncomfortable when deeper techniques are applied to tense and injured tissue). 

Research into massage  

There is a large variation with complaints that I see. A popular issue is delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), which can occur within the following 24 hours after exercise. A study was conducted in 2014 that looked at reducing the effects of DOMS in the quadriceps muscle group by using massage as an intervention. One group received massage and the second group received no massage after the exercises. They concluded that the massage group had reduced muscle soreness, faster recovery and improved muscle efficiency. 

Another complaint I see is non-specific lower back pain. This can be caused by under or over working muscles, and many studies have shown that Sport Massage Therapy can be used to decrease back pain. One study looked at participants back function and pain intensity. The group that had Sports Massages and had exercises for 1 month had the overall highest and pain free statistic with improved back function.  

Sports Massage can be part of an active and healthy lifestyle and I hope this clarifies what Sports Massage is and how it can benefit you. 

By Sophie Hartman

You can find out more about sports massage at Backworks by calling us now on 01702 342329.


References 

Belido-Fernandez, L. et al, (2018), Effectiveness of massage therapy and abdominal hypopressive gymnastics in nonspecific chronic lower back pain, Evidence- Based complementary and alternative medicine, 1 (1), 1-9. 

Boguszewski, D. et al, (2015), Sports Massage age therapy on the reduction of delayed onset muscle soreness of the quadriceps femoris, Human Movement, 15 (4), 234-237. 

Hernandez-reif, M. et al, (2001), Lower back pain is reduced and range of motion increased after massage therapy, International Journal of Neuroscience, 106 (3-4), 131-145. 

McGillicuddy, M. (2011), Massage for sports performance, edn 1, Human Kinetics, Unites States of America. 

Pain, T. (2015), The complete guide to Sports Massage, edn 3, Bloomsbury Publishing, United Kingdom. 

Watson, T. (2003), Soft Tissue Healing, In Touch, 104 (1), 2-9. 

Weerapong, P. et al. (2005), The mechanisms of massage and effects on performance, muscle recovery and injury prevention,Sports Medicine, 35 (3), 235-256. 

Wilmore, J. (1999), Physiology of sport and exercise, edn 5, Human Kinetics, United States of America.

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