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Sports Massage – The Facts

Many people don’t know what’s involved with a Sports Massage – and how very beneficial this form of treatment can be.

Laura offers Sports Massage at the Shefford Osteopathic Clinic. Here are her key facts about Sports Massage:

1. Understand the different types of massage. There are so many different types of massage. Some sound very exotic (Swedish, hot stones, bamboo). They can de-stress you and moisturise your skin with wonderful aromas but they do very little to release tight muscle tissue. Deep tissue massage can help release some muscular tension, although it depends on the knowledge behind the therapist, whether they are applying the right amount of pressure in the right place at the right stage of injury. Sports Massage at Shefford Osteopathic Clinic is a targeted, tailored treatment for both physical and biomechanical gain. Myofascial release involving gentle, sustained pressure on soft tissue restrictions, and other soft tissue techniques are incorporated to give you specifically targeted muscle release, helping to improve flexibility, reduce pain and increase range of motion.

2. Vet your therapist. Do you know how well your therapist is trained? To what level they are trained? How many years of experience they have had?  Are they insured?! Make sure you find out. Everyone has to start somewhere however Sports Therapy is a title used by some who are NOT allowed membership to the Society of Sports Therapists (the governing body of this profession). Their training does not yet reach the standards of the profession. Laura has been a Sports Therapist for 9 years and has gained an undergraduate and Masters Degree in Sports Therapy which allows full membership to the Society, ensuring safe and effective treatment for you.

3. When to get a massage. Book a regular maintenance massage to keep your muscles in good health. This can range between every 2 days to 6 months depending on your goals and activity level (every 4 – 8 weeks suits most). If you’re very active a treatment once a month will identify any issues with overtraining, weakness, imbalances and aid your performance. If you get muscular tension from your job, maintenance massage will help improve posture, reduce tension headaches, reduce muscular tension and stress which the body can hold on to very easily. If you stay in the same position for long periods of times the muscles adapt to that position, massage will help this.

4. Massage and training. If you have an upcoming sporting event, make sure you let your therapist know and they can help you schedule your appointments to suit your needs. This can include pre and post event massage, both of which need to be tailored to your treatment plan. Avoid a full sports massage less than 48 hours before an event –  it will cause unnecessary pain during the event as the body hasn’t had a chance to recover fully from the deeper techniques. A pre competition massage with much gentler techniques will suit your needs. Again, therapist knowledge is the key to receiving the correct treatment.

5. Don’t expect a spa experience! Sports massage involves more patient participation than other massages. You will be asked to move around at times, interact physically and you will get homework to help with your recovery. This doesn’t mean you’ll be moving call the time or it’ll be constant hard work but some parts of the treatment do require your co-operation for the session’s full effectiveness.

6. “But I didn’t even have pain there!” Don’t be alarmed if your therapist finds areas which hurt other than the original problem area. The body is a fantastic machine and copes with day to day imbalances and postural deviances without us even knowing. A good therapist will be able to identify these issues and treat appropriately. This doesn’t mean to say the area of your main concern will go untreated either. We may be able to find many areas that hurt which tells the entire story to your pain and help get you sorted. All will be explained during your treatment and feel free to ask questions at any point along the way.

7. No pain, no gain – WRONG. Don’t be fooled into thinking your Sports Massage has to be a horrendous painful experience to be effective. Quite the opposite. There is some pain discomfort and it’s important to find each patient’s individual tolerance. If the pain is too high then make sure you say something! Effective massage happens when you are not bracing against the pain. Breathing techniques can help ease the discomfort. Any therapist who deals with muscles needs to apply a little pressure to be effective. Communication with your therapist is key.

8. Your massage therapist is not a doctor. Your massage therapist will only be able to deal with the muscular complaint you present that day. If the pain is still there 3-4 days later and feels like more than just a build-up of tension you need an assessment by a medical professional. As a Sports Therapist can diagnose whereas a sport masseuse cannot, referring you onto other medical professionals when needed. This is a very important part of our practise, knowing when we can help and when we cannot. We will never keep treating you without knowing what the condition is, or keep booking you in if your complaint is not responding to treatment Some conditions may take longer to treat than others. We will make you aware of this and the reasons why during your appointments.

9. Post massage soreness. When you get off the couch and feel stiff this is due to the muscles receiving an intense treatment. The muscle fibres have been lengthened, stretched and separated (that’s a good thing). Any unwanted scar tissue has been broken down and the muscles start their road to recovery the moment you get up. The discomfort will settle down within 24-48 hours. It’s normal to feel a bit of discomfort. Tell your therapist of any other pains that present themselves before your next appointment. It may highlight weaker areas and/or areas that need attention in the future. Think of it as peeling an onion; muscles have layers. If you sort out one area it may well reveal the next layer to be addressed. Some people feel like they have a new body!

10. Don’t schedule a post massage workout. Your muscles need time to process the treatment, rest and recover. Make the most of it.

11. Heat. The day after treatment, a bath may be very beneficial in reducing soreness and continuing the good work of your therapist. You will be advised accordingly at the end of your treatment. Cold may also be advised if necessary, depending on your injury.

12. Hydrate. Before and after a massage. Before will hydrate the muscles allowing a more effective massage, and after helps to flush the body of unwanted toxins removed by the massage. If you feel slightly dizzy or light headed make sure you have a drink of water.

We hope you feel more informed – and tempted – by Sports Massage. It has so much to offer!

This article was written by Laura Webb, the Sports Massage Therapist at Shefford Osteopathic Clinic.