Sports Massage is a form of manual therapy designed to speed up recovery of muscles and joints strained through physical activity. Sports Massage involves gliding, stretching and stroking movements applied by the therapist to the client’s skin. As a separate technique, Sports Massage developed in the context of an increased professionalisation of sport in the latter part of the 20th century. Today, Sports Massage is not only an established part of an athletic routine, but it also is widely used by “regular” folk when in need of help with healing injuries of muscles and joints.
How does it work?
Below are listed the most well-known benefits of Sports Massage. Most of them are linked with the stimulating effect the touch has on the physiology of the client’s body. Sports Massage is also known to help with psychological issues such as low mood and depression.
The benefits of Sports Massage:
- Neck Pain – A 2009 study published in Clinical Journal of Pain showed a 55% improvement in chronic neck pain patients after 10 weeks of neck massage.
- Athletic Performance – A 2010 study published in Journal of Strength and Conditioning found that as little as 30 seconds of massaging the muscle – tendon junction improves hip flexor range of motion.
- Stress – A 2010 study in Sweden showed that 80-minute hand and foot massage can significantly reduce the levels of stress hormones such as cortisol and insulin; the study also shown heart rate reduction.
- Digestive issues – A 2009 study published in Sweden showed that abdominal massage with conjunction with laxatives works much better for constipation than laxatives on their own.
- Back Pain – A meta study published in the journal Spine in 2009 found that back massage can increase endorphin levels and so increase the threshold of pain perception.
- High Blood Pressure – The Journal of Alternative and Complimentary medicine published a study which shows that in people with normal blood pressure, only 45 to 60 minutes of Deep Tissue Massage can lower it by an average of 10.4mm/Hg in systole and 5.3mm/Hg in diastole.
- Depression – A 2010 meta study published in Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that massage elevates mood and fights depression by stimulating oxytocin and serotonin production.
Sports Massage technique
There are many soft tissue techniques used in Sports Massage, and their appropriateness is largely determined by the client’s condition. In their arsenal of methods, a good Sports Massage therapist will have deep tissue massage, muscle energy techniques, joint mobilisation, taping and even high-velocity spinal manipulation. In the end it is the outcome of the treatment (return to health) and not the technique that matters most.
How I work
In my practise I use techniques inspired by my Rolfing training as well as more traditional massage modalities. When necessary and with your consent I also use spinal manipulation as it proves very effective in helping to resolve acute lower back and neck issues. Occasionally I use taping and give take home exercises.
What happens during a Sports Massage session?
We will start your session by discussing the goals you may have for the treatment. We will then, if necessary, do an assessment of your body using simple tests. The treatment is done on a massage table and you will be expected to be in your underwear. Depending on your needs I may give you exercises to address the issue at hand. The whole session lasts for about an hour.
When not to have a sports massage
- You are in your first trimester of pregnancy
- Undergoing cancer treatment
- Suffering from rheumatoid arthritis
- Struggling with cold/fever etc.
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