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Sports Massage

Sports massage differs from other forms of massage in the fact that it concentrates on the specific needs of the athlete. With the ever growing competitiveness and intensity of physical exercise, the demand for sports massage is also increasing and becoming recognised as a skill and practice which may aid recovery and enhance performance.

To perform sports massage, it is especially important to have a thorough understanding of anatomy and physiology, in particular the muscular and skeletal systems. Through understanding these systems and the effects of exercise upon them, the masseur can directly target the areas where specific damage has been done and maximum benefit may be gained.

Athletes looking to improve their performance spend days working to produce a structured plan, months building up a base, weeks developing top end speed and hours in the intensity of competition. Yet few consider a thirty-minute massage as part of their programme.

Thousands of pounds are spent on the tools of the trade; disc wheels, carbon frames, sexy wheels, the latest kit. Yet £25 spent on a sports massage is rarely considered to be a good investment. The reality is, it's probably the best £25 you could spend, and pound for pound one of the best value for money performance enhancers around. In short, a regular sports massage should become an integral part of any serious athlete's training program. 

Why Sports Massage?
Athletes demand improved performance from their training programmes; or what's the point. As we've discussed elsewhere, improvement comes from a structured and systematic overload of the physiological systems that go into propelling us forward. Subjecting the body to gradual and controlled overuse brings good things and bad things. Good things, for instance, is improved performance. Bad things are the development of free radicals and muscle micro-trauma to name but two.

Systematic overuse often creates problems and imbalances in the soft tissues. If ignored and allowed to become chronic, at best they will hinder the athlete's rate of improvement, at worst performance will deteriorate and ultimately the athlete may be susceptible to developing more serious conditions. For those without a coach to help talk through training and recognise these problems, overtraining and overstraining (with the ultimate conclusion of long-term injury) may well result.

What it can and can't do
Sports massage serves a dual role. It can combat the bad effects from our training and can help spot and repair overuse injuries before they develop into something more serious. However you must understand this very important point; sports massage is a complementary therapy. If you are injured you must seek medical advice first, any professional therapist will always check this first. Massage can help the recovery process but it is not a cure in itself.

Types of Sports Massage
Different massage techniques are used for different purposes and at different times. This following is for your guidance only.

Pre-event massage
Given shortly before an athlete competes. It consists mainly of brisk effleurage to stimulate and warm the muscles and petrissage to help muscles move fluidly and to reduce muscle tension. Effleurage, generally a relaxing stroke, when done briskly stimulates. As the massage progresses, pressure increases as the therapist uses percussive strokes and cupping to stimulate the muscles to contract and flex. Obviously the part of the body being massaged varies from sport to sport, although leg and back muscles are common targets for this type
of massage.

Post-event massage
Usually given 1-2 hours after competition is over in order to give dilated blood vessels a chance to return to their normal condition. Post-event
massage is light and gentle in order not to damage already stressed muscles. The goal is to speed up removal of toxic waste products and reduce swelling. Very light effleurage will decrease swelling while light petrissage will help clear away toxins and relieve tense, stiff muscles.

Maintenance massage
Should be performed at least once a week when the athlete is in heavy training. It is frequently administered to the back and legs. Deep effleurage and petrissage are used to relax and tone knotted muscles.

The Message
A professional therapist will be more than happy to show you their qualifications and it should be no problem finding happy clients who are willing to recommend them. All practitioners on this site are local, understand the needs and requirements of the athletes and come either personally checked out by myself or come highly recommended by others.

If you want to improve your recovery, get a massage. If you want to feel better, relaxed and/or stimulated, get a massage. If you are serious about your training and well being, and you want to stay fit and healthy, then consider a sports massage as a complement to your training and health regimen. Try one at least once, what have you got to lose?

Contact Sarah Corcoran (by emailing us on the link below) and I'll put you in touch to arrange a consultation and an independent assessment of your needs.

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