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Sport Massage

WHAT IS SPORT MASSAGE?

Sport massage is the manual manipulation of muscle tissue which determines the tone of the athlete's muscles. The tone of the muscle is the proportion of fired (contracted) muscle fibres to unfired fibres. Massage can adjust the muscle tone to enhance optimal performance. If the muscle tone is too high, there may not be enough muscle fibre to contract for peak performance and if the tone is too low, the athlete will not get enough elastic response for his/her muscles. If an athlete pushes too hard with a low tone, there is a greater risk of injury.

THE BENEFITS OF SPORT MASSAGE:

1. Massage acts as a safety check fo tight muscles warning the therapist and athlete of potential areas at risk of injury.

2. Loosened muscles enhance performance and decrease risk of injury (especially before speed work).

3. Massage increases circulation, decreases inflammation and removes fatigue by-products which restrict optimal muscle performance.

4. Massage increases self awareness of the athlete's body condition and muscle tone.

5. Massage eases pain caused by tightly contracted muscles that press on nervous tissure by relaxing the muscle spasm.

6. Massage hastens the recovery period from muscle fatigue and injury by increasing circulation resulting in better nutrition, quicker regeneration and repair.

WHAT IS INVOLVED IN SPORT MASSAGE?

A. Pre-Event Massage:

  • In conjunction with an athlete's regular warm-up, a pre-event massage stimulates the muscle, the circulatory system and the nervous system to be best prepared for the upcoming event.

  • Pre-event massage is usually of short duration (10-15 minutes). The muscle tone is evaluated and then treated to adjust it accordingly.

  • The circulatory system is stimulated to increase the oxygen and nutrient supply to the muscles that are about to be worked.

  • Stimulating the nervous system allows muscle to respond faster. This increases the amount of muscle fibres that are available for action and at the same time relaxes muscle tension.

* The athlete's body is now prepared for
maximal output and performance.

B. Post-Event Massage

  • Massage aids in muscle fatigue recovery by increasing the circulation, bringing in nutrition and eliminating metabolic wastes generated by the working muscle.

  • Elimination of metabolic wastes (energy by-products)reduces muscle soreness and stiffness, by quickly decreasing the muscle tone that is caused by muscle fatigue.

  • Post-event massage relaxes the central nervous system which also relaxes the muscle.

  • Post-event massage helps the athlete's muscles to relax quicker resulting in fewer negative after effects following strenous physical activity.

C. Maintenance and Rehabilitation Massage:

  • Regular massage keeps muscles, tendons and ligaments in optimal condition which helps prevent injuries.

  • When muscles are loose they are better able to uphold the stresses of training and are less prone to tears.

  • Acute injuries are treated with appropriate hydrotherapy, massage and remedial exercise to avoid fibrosing adhesions and scar-tissue build-up. This allows the injuries to heal faster and stronger which helps prevent chronic problems from developing.

HOW MASSAGE SPEEDS THE RECOVERY PERIOD OF INJURIES

  • Reduces swelling to speed the healing process by restoring the flow of nutrients to the wound.

  • Helps prevent the formation of scar-tissure adhesions. Adhesions are both stronger and less supple than the surrounding tissue. This increases the risk of new muscle tears adjacent to the original injury site.

  • Increases the circulation to remove wastes from the injured area.

HOW MASSAGE CAN HELP ALLEVIATE NAGGING CHRONIC INJURIES:

  • Muscles will automatically tighten around an injury to support and protect the area. If continuous micro-tearing and re-injury is occurring, or there is a larger uneven soft tissue tear (in ligaments, tendons or muscles), the body will eventually lay down scar tissue at the injury site. The connective tissue fibres become adhered to the muscle fibres which shortens the muscle and prevents adequate circulation from reaching the injured area. Massage helps to breakdown the scar tissue to properly align the scar tissue with the muscle fibres.

  • If the injury is in a chronic state, then the muscle has been contracted for a long period of time. This often causes numbness, tingling and/or increased pain from compression on adjacent nerves. Manual manipulation and the loosening of the muscle will help the muscle fibres to relax and prevent nerve compression.

  • Often with chronic injuries other muscle aches develop. Surrounding muscles may compensate for the inability of the injured muscle to perform its required activity. Massage can help by relaxing these tense overworked and misused muscles.

Women in Motion -September 1.2000