What is it?
Sports massage is the use of mechanical pressure techniques to stimulate the bodies’ soft tissues with the aim of improving flexibility, reducing sensitivity and increasing recovery.
What benefits does it have?
The bodies’ circulation relies on pressure changes, by using mechanical pressure in massage we can alter relative pressures to stimulate circulation. When you have a massage the area becomes warm and red indicating increased circulation. Blood, lymph and other fluid is moved through the tissue. This circulation can aid soft tissue recovery through new nutrients and blood flow brought into the tissue and old waste products being removed. Massage aims to do this without adding any muscle fatigue that exercise could induce. This can be helpful if repeated efforts are needed on consecutive days.
The bodies’ connective (fascial) tissues link various other body tissues (muscle, bone, tendon etc.). This is to enable transfer of force, absorption of shock and pressure, provide adaptability and elasticity. These tissues are responsive to mechanical pressure and positions. Have you ever noticed you feel quite stiff getting out of bed in the mornings or after sitting in the cinema? There is no permanent change made to the lengths of your muscles here, merely a temporary increase in tension and reduction in fluidity of the soft tissues. If you spend enough time in these positions every day the body would then try to make that adaptation permanent- whether healthy for you or not. Massage can use pressure stimulation which creates vibration and alters this tension response. As a result you get increased freedom of movement and flexibility. When done regularly and in combination with exercise you can help make this more permanent. This helps to keep the necessary range of movement available for daily and sporting activity.
The act of touching and manipulating the soft tissues also appears to have an influence on their sensitivity. In the days after exercise or repeated work tasks the muscles are often sore as the body tries to protect recovery processes. This leads to tightness which hampers further training or gives discomfort during work. Varied pressures, temperatures and vibrations stimulate the nervous system. This happens throughout the whole body influencing the level of sensitivity. Nerve input to the spinal cord is blended together for various different types of sensation- including danger messages- using massage can help to reduce the sensitivity and leave the area feeling looser. This can help to reduce soreness and aid training or work.
Who is it useful for?
Sports massage is particularly useful anyone with aches and pains related to physical activity or work. It is also great at helping recover from exercise and in getting you ready for upcoming events.
It is also beneficial if you are struggling with flexibility and need some help in feeling freer and looser on a daily basis.
When should you choose physiotherapy instead?
We advise that if you have an injury of any sorts or have a specific area of the body that is causing pain, i.e. just your left shoulder is a problem. If this is the case then you would be better suited to an initial physiotherapy assessment. Massage may be beneficial as an option following this.