What is a Sports Massage
Sports massage is a form of treatment, to treat an individual with an injury. Therefore helping to relieve muscle tension which could reduce pain and reduce risk of injury. This means a massage professional would have to handle soft tissue of the body which are skin, ligaments, muscles and tendons
There are many positive effects of massage to improve the body’s functions.
Massage actions normally follow venous returns, which mean massaging towards the heart. When an individual massages towards the heart, this generates pumping action that helps with the circulatory system. This would help to improve and progress an individual’s supply of oxygen and nutrients to the tissues. This also removes any waste products from the body which could be carbon dioxide and lactic acid.
Lymph nodes act as filters or gaps for foreign particles. They are essential in the proper function of our immune system as they contain the body’s white blood cells. The lymphatic colourless fluid moves. Therefore when an individual has a massage, glands may swell up after the massage has taken place. This is because the body would be trying to get rid of all unwanted fluids
A mixture of massage and medium’s over the body’s skin has its advantages in nourishing and invigorating. Another positive side of massage is that it can soothe and loosen your skin leaving your skin soft and allowing cell regeneration, therefore improving texture and having a healthy glow. When heat is used in massage, such as Hydrotherm, it helps to stimulate the skin and skin tone. Therefore, when an individual has a massage, their skin will turn red because the blood will rush to the surface of the skin (Hydrotherm will also help to stimulate this). This would result in the blood moving around the body, promoting fresh blood to the muscles, promoting a quicker healing and recovery time, especially if injured.
Different massage techniques allow different reactions to muscle tissue; the more pressure you apply the better it will affect your blood supply and aid the tone of muscle. The slower and deeper massage helps more with the relaxation of the muscles and help to remove waste products from the muscles. Particular localised pressure can reduce nodules and techniques managed around the join can help to arouse the production of synovial fluid. When an individual has received a massage before a sporting situation, the muscles would have a good supply of blood and oxygen because the pressure of the massage helps the blood and oxygen to move around the body more frequently.
The reactions of massage and the increased circulation assist soft tissue to become more flexible, especially ligaments and tendons as they don’t have the same elasticity and extensibility as do. The overall outcome is to separate the fibres according to their direction, which helps to improve flexibility and prevent injury. When taking part in massage muscles will become hotter, there becoming more flexible and will become longer.
Remodelling of the scar tissue
Scar tissue can develop through internal damage to the fibrous tissue, for example, cuts, post-surgery, fractures or soft tissue injuries like sprains and strains. Once scar tissue had developed, it is often strong and secure, however, older scar can be as hard as bone. As scar tissue is a necessary way of the body part to heal, it is important to remodel the scar tissue through massage. Remodelling the scar tissue through massage will help the area to tolerate the forces and loading the body is involved with on a daily basis. Remodelling the scar tissue through massage will help to ensure a normal range of motion, mobility and strength.
Increasing blood flow
Massage will increase blood flow due to dilating (expanding) the blood vessels. Normal circulatory functions require vessel walls, which are very flexible and act like elastic. By massaging this stretches the walls, therefore varying the degrees, which means improving the volume and function. When the blood vessels expand, more blood will be supplied to the muscles. This allows the muscles to be supplied with a good supply of healthy and fresh blood. This promotes a quicker and faster healing process allowing fluids and nutrients to pass through the muscles.
By increasing tissue permeability, deep massage causes the pores in tissue membranes to open, allowing fluids and nutrients to pass through. This helps to remove waste products .e.g. lactic acid and encourage the muscles to take up oxygen and nutrients, which aid recovery
The autonomic nervous system is the body function that controls breathing, an individual’s heartbeat and also controls the digestive system, which an individual wouldn’t notice within the body. This would mean the autonomic can either increase or decrease heart rate.
Sympathetic nervous system
Using massages to increase an individual’s heart rate. An example of this is before a football game, a performer would be warmed up. In turn, the blood would be rushing around the body, resulting as the blood going to the working muscles.
Parasympathetic nervous system
The parasympathetic nervous system is used to reduce heart rate, which means a part of the system that helps the body to relax. This would be beneficial in a game situation if a participant suffered from stress anxiousness before a game, resulting as the participant had reduced stress levels.
There are many physiological and psychological advantages of sports and exercise massage. This would comprise improved body awareness, pain reduction, stress reduction, relaxation and enhanced well-being.
Messages are sent to the brain when an injury happens, alerting it to pain in a certain area. When massaging a tender area the aroused cutaneous mechanoreceptors will block the indications or signals before reaching the spinal cord. As the brain will not obtain any pain signals to the tender area the sensitivity of the pain will reduce. An example of this is hitting your elbow or another joint against an object and then rubbing that area because it becomes sore. This is where the body receives a message from the brain.
Enhanced injury recovery time
Sports massage, in particular, helps to warm up the muscles, increasing blood flow to the muscles to promote quicker healing and recovery. It will also help to break down scar tissue and realign muscle fibres that were previously damaged through injury occurrence or a general onset leading to injury. Sports massage is also great for stimulating nerve endings and decreasing neurological excitability (nerves more relaxed). All these key components will help decrease pain, reduce muscle spasms, reduce muscle tension, increase joint range of motion and increase flexibility.
Stress reduction and enhanced well-being
Sport and exercise massage procedures applied skilfully can increase the sense of well-being. Inspiring and encouraging the release of endorphins, and by decreasing grades of stress hormones (cortisol). An example of this would be having a massage relaxing the body and producing endorphins make an individual feel better about themselves.
Improved body awareness
Massage can develop physiological awareness. Enhancing the nervous system function can increase body awareness. Therefore promoting a positive awareness of the body and self-esteem.
Different types of massage techniques can have a calming and comforting outcome on the nervous system. In turn, this can reduce muscle tension, therefore re-energising the release of endorphins. This could improve or develop an individual’s mood. The release of endorphin will help relax the body when a client has a massage. Here at Keheren Therapy, we provide Hydrotherm during the massage, which is a fantastic way of helping people to relax!
Lauren Lyndon-Hill is a Sports Therapist providing sports massage at Keheren Therapy in Truro, Cornwall. Here she gives us some explanation as to what Sports Massage is and its many physical and psychological benefits