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Sports massage v Regular massage

Often the question that gets asked by the general public is around the difference between a regular massage and a sports remedial massage. Both are based upon the Swedish massage therapy, which focuses on relieving tension in the muscles through long kneading strokes on the soft tissue areas, as well as rhythmic and light tapping strokes. Both use deep circular movements causing soft tissue to rub against each other and this friction helps to increase the flow of blood and nutrients around the body as well as releasing stress and breaking down scar tissue.

A sports therapist however will have a more detailed knowledge of injuries caused by sporting activities. They will have received training in the movement patterns and human anatomy to identify the specific areas that tighten during the sport involved. They also have a good understanding of the biomechanics of the individual skeletal frame so they can pinpoint areas that need freeing up and address injuries and wounds cause by sport.

How can sports massage help with recovery from injury?

When first starting a new sporting or exercise regime, the body will feel the stress and strain of different movements in the joints, neck, back, arms etc.  A sports massage in Richmond can help to warm up tense muscles, as well as stretch and loosen them, so that it is not so painful or sore the next day which can restrict movement.  Sports massage allows for a good flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients to the areas it is needed most, as muscles have microscopic holes through which this fluid flows. If the muscle sheath is tense or toughened, this restricts the free flow of fluid. Massage breaks down the tense tissue area, opening up the tiny holes and helping to remove the unwanted by-products of exercise into the lymph system.

As well as the physical benefits, vigorous massage stimulates the brain to produce the feel-good endorphins which leaves the individual feeling refreshed and relaxed. Sports massages help to reduce pain and sore muscles, making it good for one’s mental health and well-being, as well as providing a calming effect on the nervous system.

What happens on the first visit?

Unlike a regular body massage which may be a full body treatment, a sports therapist is likely to focus on specific areas once they have carried out a full assessment. The therapist will take you through a series of exercises which allows them to observe posture and body symmetry. They will be checking the current flexibility and mobility of joints and muscles to see the range of movement. Therapists are trained to work below the pain threshold of their client and will advise on breathing techniques to help manage any discomfort.

If you have been training quite hard, remember to attend the first session in comfortable clothing. Wear shorts or appropriate underwear if having the legs massaged because the therapist may well want to work on the leg and thigh muscles as well as the muscles that control how the hip works. If the area is sore and needs work, it will be painful, but the results afterwards are definitely worth it. The body does undergo a form of trauma during massage, and the individual can feel cold and thirsty, as the body works to get rid of unwanted waste products. Drinking lots of water will help and have a warm shower or bath will also be beneficial after the treatment.

When should treatments be booked?

This very much depends on the individual and the training regime they are undertaking. For example, if gearing up to run a local triathlon or part of a team sporting event, a light pre-event massage will be of benefit. This helps to relax and calm the individual, as well as loosen up and relax muscles before the big event. After the main event, a sports massage will enable the body to rid itself of metabolic waste material, release any excess tension (that can cause damage to muscles) and act as a cool-down exercise.

When taking part in regular sporting activity, it is best to book in maintenance or restorative massage which stops painful niggles and tender areas that could result in a more serious injury. Muscles can be kept functioning properly so that the athlete is able to perform to their optimum ability, and a rehabilitative massage can be booked if an injury has occurred when taking part in a sporting activity. This will alleviate the pain caused by the injury and help the affected tissue heal quickly and return to normal.

Most professional therapists will always be happy to have a discussion before booking the treatment and answer any queries that are not already covered on their website. If looking for a sports massage near you, consider Adaptive Chiropractic and book an appointment with one of our experts today to find out what treatment plan works best for you.