Injuries sustained in normal life are not really the same as injuries in sport. If someone is injured falling off a ladder, it is reasonable to assume this will be a once in a lifetime experience.
In sport, most injuries occur through overuse
In sport, however, most injuries occur through overuse, which often builds up unnoticed over a period of time. If treated as a one-off event, without addressing the root cause of the overuse, a return to sport in the same way will be likely to produce the same injury again.
Sports massage is dedicated as much to injury prevention as it is to injury treatment and rehabilitation. Apart from advice on how to use a ladder safely there is no physical treatment that can prevent a fall, but a skilled Sports Massage Therapist can give preventative treatment as well as advice for sports injuries.
Regular sports massage could enhance your performance
A competitive sportsman is rarely completely satisfied with his or her performance and often aims for a level just beyond what they can actually achieve.
The overall objective of the sports massage therapist is to help enhance performance and enjoyment of sport, at whatever level of participation.
The benefits of regular sports massage
Improve quantity and quality of training
Most common overuse muscle injuries develop because training is resumed before the muscles have fully recovered from the last training session.
It takes time for the blood circulating through the muscle to remove the muscle waste that accumulates through hard exercise, supply the ingredients necessary to repair any damage fibres, and replenish the nutritional level.
Massage pumps large volumes of blood through the muscles and speeds-up these processes enormously. With quicker and more complete recovery you can increase both the quantity and quality of training with greater safety.
Helps identify and deal with potential injuries
The massage therapist thoroughly assesses the condition of the tissues and will often identify areas of pain and tension that you did not realise you had. These could be sites of potential overuse injury, which can then be dealt with before they affect training and performance.
Enabling fine-tuning of training
The best time to have a massage is as soon after your hardest session of the week as possible
By identifying potential problems early it is possible to monitor the effects of training and make vital adjustments to a programme before injury occurs: for example, improving stretching on a particular muscle, or missing out a particular exercise for a few days.
Sports massage when injured
Continuing to train with a minor injury may not aid its recovery, but rest alone may not be the best solution either. A build up of scar tissue could leave the muscle permanently weaker and less flexible. Massage can help prevent this.
Massage can effectively treat the majority of minor soft tissue (muscle, tendon and ligaments), which are by far the most numerous of all sport injuries, but other injuries may require other medical treatments - the therapist should know when a referral to a medical practitioner is necessary.
When to have sports massage
Sports massage can solve issues you didn't know you had
The best time to have a massage is as soon after your hardest session of the week as possible, ideally on the same day, as any overuse condition is likely to tighten up more over night.
Everyone will respond slightly differently to massage - some prefer not to have a general relaxing treatment too soon before an event, whereas others may find the opposite is the case.
Pre and post event massage
For the well-trained and prepared athlete, pre-event sports massage should achieve a mainly psychological benefit. As not everyone responds in quite the same way to massage it could be dangerous to try your first one just before a major event. Try things out to see what suits you best first.
A skilled therapist can apply techniques in different ways to either stimulate or relax the tissues. These can be used in a variety of combinations to help you feel and perform at your very best. Post-event massage always makes sense because it promotes recovery so well.
How to find a good therapist
There is no legislation in the UK governing the complementary therapies at the present time, so anybody can (and some do) call themselves therapists with little or no proper training. The best thing to go on is reputation. Ask about their training, whether they are a member of a professional body and whther they have indemnity insurance. Try different therapists (if you are lucky enough to have a choice) to see who is right for you.
For your information, the National Sports Medicine Institute in association with the British Olympic Association (BOA) recognises three organisations which provide sports massage courses:
a massage may well turn up areas of tenderness you didn't know you had
What to expect from a sports massage therapist
- The London School of Sports Massage
- Sports Performance Services Limited
- The Raworth School of Sports Massage
A good massage therapist will not follow a set routine but will apply a variety of techniques that suit your particular needs at that time, so each treatment will be slightly different. Although good massage is deep and can be painful it should always feel like a good pain, and it should not be so deep that it is painful everywhere, only in the areas where there is a problem to be dealt with.
During a massage the therapist will explore the muscles very thoroughly and you will often discover areas of tenderness you did not know you had. These could be potential injury sites that can then be treated before they become a problem.