22 Mar More About Massage… How? Why? When?
With marathon season just around the corner it is important to make sure your body is in peak condition. Although stretching and foam rolling are great ways to maintain muscle health, they can’t get to some of the deeper fibres that often need attention. This is where Sports Massage (or Soft Tissue Therapy – see our previous blog) can help. When done well, it can improve flexibility and correct muscle imbalances, often by getting to parts of muscles that rolling and stretching can’t reach!
How Does it Work?
Sports Massage utilises a variety of techniques that soften, stretch, lift and wake specific muscles. There are lots of names for these techniques such as effleurage, soft tissue release, trigger-point therapy, but the overall aim of them is to stimulate an increase in blood circulation that will speed muscle recovery.
Other methods such as muscle energy techniques and positional release are also used to help balance muscle activity, and practitioners might also use ultrasound and taping to help recovery and posture respectively. All this might be done in conjunction with osteopathy or physiotherapy; our practitioners have a habit of working together here at Openhealth.
When Should I Have A Massage?
The best time to book an appointment with a sports massage therapist is as soon as you feel a niggle. The sooner you receive treatment the quicker your recovery should be. Should your presentation cause concern we ask patients to see one of our osteopaths or physiotherapists, or (if possible) we get them to pop in and meet you there and then!
Apart from helping with new injuries, keen runners (or anyone else who exercises three or more times per week), often find that a maintenance massage once every 4-8 weeks can really help to keep on top of niggles and prevent more serious injuries from developing.
Additionally, if you’re not even particularly sporty a regular massage can help with tired, sore muscles, and aid general wellbeing. Sometimes it’s the only time our patients get to lie down and relax!
Does It Hurt?
This is the question that is most often the “elephant in the room” when new patients come to the clinic.
The answer is yes and no. It can be sore when a therapist works into a tight muscle, and also when they work around an injury. But the pain is often described as good pain, and patients can normally recognise what is helping and what is not. Most important is communication! Our practitioners will talk with you, and can usually detect if a patient is squirming in uncomfortable pain…
What’s The Benefit?
Whether treating an injury or trying to prevent them, a skilled massage therapist will identify areas of tightness that you are probably not aware of. This reduces the risk of potential problems and speeds up recovery from injury.
These hidden areas of tightness often contribute to injury by forcing the body to compensate in order to make up for a limitation of movement. These compensations might be fine for a while, even in the higher echelons of the sporting elite, but once demand on the body exceeds its ability to compensate, injury can occur.
With this in mind, a knowledgeable sports massage therapist can play a key role in your training routine. They can offer advise on stretches, suggest strength exercises and outline warm-up routines to facilitate your end goals, avoiding as many pitfalls of injury along the way as possible.
If you think sports massage might be of benefit to you do not hesitate to get in touch!