If the massage is performed before an event or activity, we use techniques such as friction, shaking and stretching. These techniques are used to “wake up” the muscles, stimulate the neurological pathways and increase blood flow. These techniques are not typically applied with oil and are not meant to be relaxing!
Sports massage therapist’s can also aid in the rehabilitation of an injury. In the case of an acute injury, broad gentle strokes are used to reduce swelling in the affected joint by increasing the flow of lymphatic drainage. Other techniques used include traction and mobilizing restricted joints and “friction” over scar tissue’s to breakdown old adhesions. Myofascial release is another technique which is used to help release restricted areas in the fascia from overuse, trauma or inactivity. Fascia (a thin, elastic, connective tissue) is everywhere in the body and it acts to protect and support organs and muscle. A restriction in your fascia can reduce the strength of a muscle contracture as well as flexibility, even if you have been stretching consistently.
Even for a recreational athlete, regular sports massage combined with foam rolling, stretching and proper hydration will significantly reduce the risk of injury. Regular treatments will also enhance blood flow to muscle tissues thus delivering vital nutrients and oxygen to aid in recovery and reduce muscle tension. Depending on your level of activity it is recommended to receive a regular treatment every 2-3 weeks. If you surf, train or play sports more than 4 times per week or have a physically demanding job you should get a treatment every 1-2 weeks.
The bottom line is, the body needs to maintain a balance between strength and flexibility to prevent injury and a regular sports massage can help you achieve it!
By Peter Cobb (Sports Massage Therapist @ Evolve)
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