Sports Massage TherapistAs a practitioner of sports massage therapy I thought it may be beneficial to explain a little about sports massage, partly because it’s a frequently used and often very beneficial treatment; and largely, as I’ve come to discover via the Fitfarms weight loss boot camp, it’s not a well understood one! Often people are not quite sure what its purpose is or what makes it different to other types of massage, so here goes my explanation of it.

Sports massage therapy is a treatment aimed at relieving stress and tension in soft tissues that may occur as a result of physical activity. It is a treatment that can benefit everyone not just people participating in sport, as often everyday physical demands can place stresses on the body that may not always be recognised until injury or ailment results. Sports massage incorporates techniques from Swedish massage, though is often deeper and more intense -however it is not necessarily painful as is sometimes presumed! Other techniques may also be included such as those to treat trigger points (aka ‘knots’) similar to acupressure, and muscle energy techniques and soft tissue release which aim to improve tissue extensibility and improve range of movement.

When used at sporting events treatment may be beneficial both pre and post event. Pre event massage is normally performed 20 minutes to an hour before the event with a shorter duration than other massages (usually 5-15 minutes), it is a more superficial massage which utilises techniques to invigorate and prepare tissues for optimal performance. Post event massage is usually performed 30 minutes to two hours after the event (following a cool down), it is a deeper massage intended to relax tissues and allow for identification of any muscle spasm and minor injury, it is often used to reduce the severity of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) which may occur following strenuous exercise.

In an everyday setting sports massage may be beneficial for either maintenance or rehabilitation. Maintenance massage is beneficial as a regular treatment where therapists aim to prevent injury by addressing areas that may be likely to cause problems based on knowledge and understanding of anatomy, the clients sporting background, and/or occupation and the physical demands involved, it usually has a duration of 30-60 minutes.

Massage for rehabilitation purposes may be beneficial for both acute and chronic injuries, aiding to reduce any pain or discomfort, encourage the healing process and lower the risk of further injury to other tissues which may be compensating. Massage for rehabilitation involves undertaking an injury assessment, the results of which guide the treatment plan. Initial treatment may be a shorter duration than a maintenance massage (allowing for assessment) though specific to the injury and tissues involved.


Editorial by FitFarms Health and Fitness Team
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