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The Benefits of Sports Massage Therapy

What is Sports Massage Therapy?

An athlete, before a performance, is under immense stress emotionally and physically and the body is also prone to injuries. Practices before the event lead to constant build-up of tension in the muscles and cause stress on joints, ligaments, tendons, as well as the muscles themselves. Apart from muscle tension, the athlete is also bogged down with fatigue and injuries which may hamper the main performance. Sports massage is the answer to emotional and physical well being for an athlete before, after and during a performance.

Sports Massage is a specific type of massage which is generally rendered before, during, and after athletic events to help prepare the athlete for desired performance, to relax the nerves and prevent injuries. This type of massage can be rendered only by a professional who has a thorough understanding of anatomy and physiology and particularly the muscular and skeletal systems.

Sports Massage works deep to eliminate toxins embedded in muscle fibers, remove adhesions, and minimize scar tissue build-up. Muscle lengthening in sports massage helps restore a range of motion and overall flexibility. Sports massage also leads to improved circulation which aids better cell nutrition, greater elasticity of muscle fiber, and reduced recovery time.

Sports massage is a blend of Swedish, Deep tissue and Shiatsu specifically designed to cater to the needs of professional athletes. Depending on the needs of the athlete, a variety of techniques are used including classic Swedish strokes, long and cross- fiber friction, pressure-point work, and joint mobilization.

Types of Sports Massage

Sports massage therapy includes pre-event, post-event, maintenance and rehabilitation techniques that promote greater athletic endurance and performance, reduced chances of injury and faster healing.

Pre-Event

Pre-Event sports massage helps warm up the muscles by stretching them and making them flexible for optimal athletic performance. A pre-event massage also stimulates the flow of blood and nutrients to the muscle, reduces muscle tension, loosen the muscles and produce a feeling of psychological readiness. A pre -event massage is best done up to two days prior to the main event.

Post-Event

Post- event massage focuses on relieving muscle soreness, minimizing the effects of fatigue and reducing the stress levels in the body. It also helps reduce swelling, maintain flexibility, promote blood flow to the muscle to remove lactic acid and waste build-up and reduce cramping. This also helps faster healing.

Prevention

This is more of a maintenance massage which can be done at least once a week as a regular part of athletic training programmes, Preventive massage increases the flow of blood and nutrients to the muscle and helps repair small tears due to strenuous physical activity. It also keeps tissue loose so that different layers of muscle slide over each other.

Rehabilitation

Sports massage is also used as a last resort in the event of injury, Sports massage helps rehabilitate by minimizing the adverse effects of scar tissue and adhesions caused to the athlete and helps regain lost flexibility and strength.

Techniques in Sports Massage

The main techniques of massage frequently used in sports are, effleurage, petrissage frictions, compression and tapotement. Most of the massage techniques ensure the main pressure is directed towards the heart to increase the venous and lymphatic flow. The strokes also ensure that excess pressure does not cause any damage to blood vessels. While effleurage is a preparatory background stroke, petrissage allows detail work on the body in releasing tension followed by friction, compression and stretching to finish.

Active Massage

This is a new type of sports massage technique that requires active participation by the client. Pin & stretch, concentric contraction compression (ccc) and eccentric extension efflerage (eee).

Contract Relax Streching

A special stretching technique that is more affective than a normal stretch as the contract and relax action allows the muscle to stretch further faster with less pain.

Benefits of Sports Massage
Sports massage is the most efficient treatment for releasing muscle tension and is designed to enhance athletic performance and recovery.

The benefits of sports massage impact the physical, physiological and psychological levels. A state of well being is achieved only when all the three aspects are in balance. Here is a compilation of the key benefits attained at each level through a sports massage:

Physical effects of massage are:

  • Deep massage causes the pores in tissue membranes to open, enabling fluids and nutrients to pass through enabling removal of waste products such as lactic acid.
  • Deep massage encourages the muscles to take up oxygen and nutrients which promote faster healing
  • Sports massage stretches muscles to release tension or stress caused due to excess physical activity
  • Sports massage helps break down scar tissues which usually affect the muscle, tendons and ligaments which impair performance.
  • Sports massage helps improve elasticity of tissues.
  • Physiological effects of sports massage are:
  • Sports massage helps reduce pain.
  • Muscles are relaxed after a sports massage
  • Psychological effects of sports massage include:
  • Reduced levels of anxiety and stress caused to muscles and nerves
  • Sports massage stimulates a sense of well being and health.

REMEDIAL/SPORTS MASSAGE

Benefits:

  • higher level of energy
  • maintains the body in better condition
  • prevents injuries and loss of mobility
  • cures and restore mobility to muscle tissue
  • boosts performance
  • release of muscle tension
  • relieves tired, aching muscle
  • increases flexibility and range of motion
  • reduces chronic pain
  • calms the nervous system
  • lowers blood pressure
  • increase blood circulation
  • speeds recovery from injuries
  • strengthens the immune system
  • reduces tension headaches
  • reduces mental stress
  • improves concentration.
  • reduced discomfort from DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) as a result of vigorous exercise
  • improved posture and flexibility.

Musculo-skeletal imbalances are often subtle and difficult to detect.
The following contributes to the condition :

Environment

  • includes the lifestyle, surroundings and occupation. Sitting at the desk all day, hours driving. You may need to check the way in which you sit at the desk, uses a computer, drives a car, lifts equipment. A simple act such as carrying a bag over a shoulder, can start of minor imbalances that can become chronic.
    Stress
  • most people have to deal with some pressure on a daily basis. At times the intensity of such pressure increases and the ability to cope with everyday task diminishes. This emotional stress often translates into tight muscles and postural problems. Persistent stress can also lead to weaknesses and problems in other body systems, often resulting in some form of illness.

Physical activity.

  • very few physical activities are well balanced. Most favor one side of the body, which will set up imbalances. The favored side of the body is stronger and has more muscle bulk. This can also lead to poorer range of motion in the affected joint.

Posture

  • postural problems often result from secondary causes, such as environmental factor. They may be due simply to development of bad habits. Stress or work may influence the posture.

Hereditary

  • there simply may not be any satisfactory explanation for imbalances and the problem my have existed since birth.

Illness

  • anyone who has endured even a short period of bed-rest due to illness is likely to suffer after-effects. Apart from feeling fatigued, the muscles may have weakened, atrophied and stiffened due to inactivity, all which may affect posture and gait.

Injury

  • traumatic injury has many effects on the human body. First the body responds by protecting the site of injury. Movement becomes more painful, partly because the soft tissue – now swollen with additional fluid – is less supple, and partly because any movement increases the pressure on the nerve endings. Increased muscle tension or even spasm will also limit the movement on the affected area. Increased pressure will impede blood vessels and neural pathways to the muscle, limiting the supplies of nerve impulses, blood, oxygen and nutrients, as well as the removal of waste products. Muscles that remain inactive will start to waste or atrophy, they will become inflexible and the muscle fibers and connective tissue will soon shorten. Muscle strength and power will be lost and joints affected by these muscles will not reach their full range of motion. The body will begin to compensate for these weakness and loss of function.

Some imbalances may develop gradually over many weeks, months or even years.

Musculo-skeletal imbalances may cause :-

  • increased strain on muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones
  • changes in soft tissue development
  • changes in skeletal development (for chronic imbalances)
  • reduced flexibility and range of motion
  • muscle wasting or atrophy
  • changes in strength,
  • changes in reflex action
  • discomfort or pain
  • poorer posture
  • poorer performance

Listen to what your body is telling you. Pain and muscle spasms are both part of the body’s reaction to injury, which acts as a defense mechanism against further injury.

Here are some of the symptoms one should be aware of :

  • pain, usually in the joints
  • stiffness in the joints and slight loss of movement
  • not getting better in terms of performance, even after rest
  • a change of contour of either bones, muscles or joints
  • a burning sensation, tingling
  • unexplained redness of the skin
  • unexplained black or blue mark

HOT STONE MASSAGE

What Is Hot Stone Massage?

  • Hot stone massage is a unique therapy which involves the application of water-heated basalt stones of varying sizes to key points on the body, giving a deep massage and creating sensations of comfort and warmth. The direct heat relaxes muscles, allowing manipulation of a greater intensity than with regular massage.

What Happens During a Hot Stone Massage?

  • Before you arrive, the massage therapist sanitizes the stones and heats them in a steamer for 30 to 40mins. The placement stones are seperated from the skin by two layers of towels and are heated longer than the massage stones which are in contact with the skin.
  • The size and shape of the stone determines which part of the body it is used on. The therapist uses traditional strokes of Swedish massage while holding a heated stone. As the stone cools, the therapist replaces it with another. While the application of oil on stones is applied to the skin. Your body blanketed in warmth with aromatic oils encourages deep relaxation.
  • The therapist might also leave heated stones in specific points along your back, or in the palms of your hand, or even between your toes to improve the flow of energy in your body.
  • If you have inflammation or muscle injury, cold marble stones may be used as well as the heated stones. This creates a thermo-therapeutic healing in the circulatory system, helping the body to detoxify and heal. The cool stones constrict blood vessels, which stimulates the nervous system by drawing blood and waste products along the body.

How Much Does a Hot Stone Massage Cost?

  • A hot stone massage is more expensive than a basic Sweddish massage because it requires more preparation and usually runs for longer (90mins). A typical hot stone massage is $125

What You Need To Know About Hot Stone Massage:

  • The therapist uses many stones of various shapes and sizes.
  • The heat of the stones helps muscles release more quickly than in traditional massage.
  • You should speak up if the stones are too warm or the pressure too intense.
  • Technique is very important. Less experienced practitioners sometimes use too much pressure.

History of Hot Stone Massage

  • Hot stone massage has been used by many cultures for thousands of years. Heated stones were used by Egyptians in their ceremonies, and heated stones have also been used by Native American Indians and in Lomi Lomi massage in Hawaii. Stone Massage Therapy came from the healers using rocks from the river beds and warming them either in hot coals or hot water. By placing the hot stones on cloth on the body and arranging them along the energy centers of the body, a healing process would occur. The hot stones have a tendency to relax the muscles and “draw out” muscle pain and discomfort. Ancient civilizations believed that hot stones were beneficial for cleansing the body, relaxing the heart, grounding the soul and soothing the mind.

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