What Is Sports Massage
While most people are familiar with massage, it is most commonly associated with relaxation and spa days. However, sports massage is a different approach all together and involves manipulating the soft tissue in the body to help support people who take part in regular physical activity.
Soft tissue includes our tendons, muscles, skin, and ligaments and the aim of sports massage is to correct any problems within that tissue which can arise from physical activity or from injury. It is also very beneficial for people who are working on a training schedule or a regular sporting activity, to fit in a regular sports massage which can really help to enhance performance.
Using sports massage both before and after taking part in exercise or sports events, has been proven to improve performance, help support recovery and even prevent injury. A sports massage would normally be carried out by a specially trained sports massage practitioner.
Difference Between Sports Massage and Physiotherapy
People can become confused between the role of a sports massage practitioner and a physiotherapist, particularly when talking about helping sports people who have suffered an injury, so what exactly is the difference between sports massage and physiotherapy?
While physiotherapy is a large subject area, in general it covers four specific fields for patients:
- Musculo-Skeletal – when areas of the body are in pain
- Neurology – when your nerves are damaged
- Respiratory – breathing difficulties
- Orthopaedics – post operation
What does a Sports Massage Practitioner do?
A Sports Massage Practitioner, however, will be looking after the body in a different way, aiding post injury or to prevent injury in the first place. So what exactly do they do?
Treatments will vary according to the needs of the client, but sports massage can include
standard techniques such as stroking muscles groups or creating movement in specific muscles groups.
It can also involve the isolation of a particular muscle to stretch it in different ways, both using passive and gentle movements, or deep areas, depending on the need. It may be necessary to work into very specific areas of the body, to try to break down tensions or it may be that layers of the soft tissue require separating.
Sports massage, focusing on the soft tissue, can help with many issues including pain or discomfort, restriction of movement and even loss of mobility, depending on the cause. If there has been an injury or operation, it is important to make sure that any massage therapy works in harmony with medical treatment being undertaken by the client. In an ideal world all the types of physical therapy and any medical carers involved with someone would work together for the patient’s health and to make sure they benefit from the expertise offered from all specialisms.
Working With Medical Professionals
A sports massage practitioner should work closely with anyone else involved in the client’s case, for example Consultants, surgeons, GPs, physiotherapists and also other therapists such as chiropractors and osteopaths. Working jointly will produce the best results for the client, with sports massage combining with the work of the other professionals. Indeed sports massage treatments can be used prior to an osteopathy appointment, to help prepare and ease the patient physically, or used alongside chiropractic treatment to work in tandem and enhance a client’s recovery time.
It may well be that case that a client will be referred to a sports massage specialist after previously seeking help from an osteopath or chiropractor, who then realised their condition was better suited to this particular type of therapy.
However, despite being referred, some clients don’t understand what sports massage is and might still be more inclined to trust what they see as trained medical professionals rather than a massage therapist. So, in this case, what should a client look out for and how is sports massage regulated? There is a Sports Massage Association and there are many professional sports massage courses out there, including those allowing the practitioner to specialise in certain techniques, however, it is not regulated in the same way as the more recognised medical professions such as physiotherapists.
Choosing a Sports Massage Therapist
When choosing a Sports Massage Therapist it’s important to do your research, look for recommendations from other clients and from your own medical professionals if relevant. Make sure they do have qualifications from recognised bodies and ask to see their certificates. Sports massage is a very specific therapy aimed at supporting and helping those who take part in regular physical activity so make sure you choose your therapist carefully and go to a specialist – it’s not the same as a simple massage from a spa day.
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My areas of expertise
- Sports Therapy
- Tui Na, ( Chinese Massage and Manipulation)
- Traditional Acupuncture
- Specialised Body Acupuncture
- Auricular Acupuncture
- Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
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