Samantha Fulcher is a qualified Sports Massage Therapist working in Devizes, Wiltshire and the surrounding areas.
The primary purpose of sports massage therapy is to help alleviate the stress and tension which builds up in the body’s soft tissues during physical activity.
Where minor injuries and lesions occur, due to overexertion and/or overuse, massage can break them down quickly and effectively.
Above all, it can help prevent those niggling injuries that so often get in the way of performance and achievement, whether one is an athlete, weekend warrior or a intermittent keep fitter.
This treatment is not just for the sports person as anyone can benefit from sports massage, including people in physically demanding jobs and those not quite so obvious (occupational, emotional and postural stress may produce many similar characteristics to sports injuries).
Sports massage tends to be deeper and more intense. It is based on the various elements of Swedish massage and incorporates a combination of other techniques.
The skilled therapist uses these techniques, their knowledge and advice during treatment, to work effectively with the client to help maintain optimum soft tissue performance and minimise post event injuries. There are three areas where sports massage is used to benefit athletes.
A regular massage treatment programme based on the therapist’s understanding of anatomy and physiology and of the muscles used in a given sport and which are potentially going to be problematic.
By concentrating on these particular muscle groups the therapist can help the athlete maintain soft tissue health or improve range of motion and flexibility.
Pre-event and post-event massage therapies are designed for distinct purposes.
Pre-event treatment is used as a supplement to an athlete’s warm-up to enhance circulation and reduce excess muscle and mental tension prior to competition. It is tailored to the needs of the athlete and his/her event and can be relaxing or stimulating as appropriate.
Post-event massage, on the other hand, is geared towards reducing the muscle spasms and metabolic build-up that occur with rigorous exercise.
Various sports massage techniques enhance the body’s own recovery process improving the athlete’s ability to return to training and competition, and reducing the risk of injury.
Even with preventative maintenance, muscles cramp, tear, bruise, and ache.
Sports massage can speed healing and reduce discomfort during the rehabilitation process.
Soft tissue techniques employed by sports massage therapists are effective in the management of both acute and chronic injuries.
Acute injury is a sudden injury that is usually associated with a traumatic event such as clashing into another player during sports or a fall from a bike.
Chronic injuries can be also called overuse injuries. It is caused by overuse of a particular part of your body either through sports, exercises or working pattern. They develop slowly and last a long time. Their symptoms are mild compared to acute injuries and the pain they cause can be minimal.
This may cause the client to ignore the injury and carry on with their activities. Over time, it will build up and cause more problems.
The benefits of sports massage are numerous:-
Primary effects refer to the physiological and psychological condition and include:
• Improved fluid circulation (blood, lymph),
• Muscular relaxation,
• General relaxation,
• Functional separation of muscle and connective tissue (i.e., breaking up adhesions),
• Connective tissue normalization (releasing areas of tension, etc.),
• Increased mental alertness and clarity.
• Deactivation of trigger points. (A trigger point is a nodule of tight muscle tissue that can refer pain locally or to other areas of the body.)
Secondary effects refer to performance-related outcomes and include:
• Greater energy,
• Greater flexibility and range of motion,
• More fluid movement (i.e., referring to the quality of the range of motion),
• Faster recovery.
• Pain reduction.
How Does Sports Massage Work?
Sports massage separates tissues that are stuck together.
Muscles (and the fascia that surround them) become stuck after injury, misuse, lack of use, stress and tension.
Sports and remedial massage can soften such hardened tissue and can allow more movement and mobility around the joints that have become stiff and painful.
Sports massage does not need to be brutal. There are times when things might need to be tough, but that is something that should be clearly communicated and negotiated with you.
You should never feel that the pain is too much because in those circumstances your muscles will simply tense up and that’s the exact opposite of what a good sports massage therapist is trying to achieve.
Is Sports Massage For Me?
Many of those looking for sports massage are confused by the sheer amount of different descriptions of massage services being offered.
The problems which cause muscular tension are as varied as the ways that human beings can use their bodies.
Sports massage aims to restore function and eradicate pain whether the discomfort has originated from bad posture, desk work or throwing yourself around a rugby pitch.
So the answer is YES, if your problem is a muscular one, then sports massage could help.
Sports Massage - What It’s Not
A sports massage therapist is a soft tissue specialist.
We are not physiotherapists, chiropractors or osteopaths. Although it is worth pointing out that sports massage works very well along side these therapies.
Physiotherapists, what do they do?
A physiotherapist is a health care professional who helps patients achieve maximum range of movement and physical ability, either by developing it in the first place or restoring it after loss of physical ability due to illness, injury or aging.
Chiropractors, what do they do?
Chiropractors treat patients with health problems of the neuromusculoskeletal system. They use spinal adjustments and manipulation, and other techniques to manage patients’ health concerns, such as back and neck pain.
Osteopaths, what do they do?
Osteopathy includes manipulation or joints to treat whole systems of the body. An osteopath will typically focus on the joints, muscles, and spine.
In a nutshell physio’s tend to treat specific injury and chiropractors and osteopaths skeletal alignment, which is why they work so well with sports massage as they really do compliment each other.