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THE GOLDEN RULES OF SPORTS MASSAGE FOR SUPERIOR PERFORMANCE

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INTRODUCTION

Did you know that sports massage is something that can improve your performance if you are involved in any type of sport?

Sports massage is not just for elite athletes. It has dramatically improved the performance of weekend golfers, tennis players, martial artists and recreational sports people.

Besides this, sports massage is something than can really help just about anyone who goes to the gym a few times a week, goes running, or does any kind of workout at home.

Sports massage is universal in this respect, but many people are unaware of it and the benefits they are missing out on.

As such, this guide will give you the most important information that you can put to use right away and benefit from.

If you are interested in improving your performance in your chosen sport, then this short guide is going to be invaluable.

Many people don’t seem to know about or understand what an impact massage can have on their body, and therefore on their sports performance.

As such, this eBook is going to cover these things so that you can gain great benefit in the process.

Imagine hitting the golf ball further, running faster, being more flexible, eliminating niggling injuries, releasing stress and playing with ease.

These are things that can occur very quickly with correct massage therapy.

The top premiership football players and many pro sports people now use sports massage therapy as an integral process in their training cycle.

They know that sports performance benefits are closely linked with sports massage. More specifically, because sports massage reduces the risk of injury and enhances recovery periods.

A sports massage will release muscle tension and help to reduce muscle imbalances in the body.

These muscle imbalances are usually what lead to more severe injury.

Sports massage is also used to rehabilitate soft tissues. When sports massage is used, the blood is brought to special muscle groups.

This increased circulation helps the bodies natural recovery of tired and over worked muscles fibres, as well as assist the lymph system to rid of toxins and acids that are created as a result of exercise.

The extra blood flow brings more oxygen and essential nutrients. This is what speeds up the recovery process, allowing you to exercise more often and reach your true potential.

This guide will give you all the information that you need to get the maximum benefits from a sports massage.

You will find a host of useful tips and advice on how to apply sports massage to your life in order to reduce injury, gain health and improve your performance.

You will also learn how to perform many simple treatments yourself. There are sections on self-massage throughout the guide.

Self-massage only takes a few minutes to learn. You can quickly identify the points on the body that need to be massaged and through practice can heal your own body.

There are certain massage strokes that need to be learned and these are covered in the guide also. You will then know which massage strokes to use and in which order (this is important).

You will also know which set of massage strokes are needed in certain areas of the body. This is important if you are engaged in certain activities or sports.

All it takes is a short ten to fifteens minutes to stretch, press or flex certain areas of your body.

Sports massage will leave you feeling lighter, more powerful, more flexible and with more energy. It will also remove those little aches and pains that you may have been coping with.

Let’s get started with the first obvious question…

HOW CAN SPORTS MASSAGE HELP ME?

Sports massage was original designed and used for elite athletes. However, anyone can use and really benefit from it.

For example, if you play sports in any capacity and have noticed any of the following it can help you:

Flexibility issues

Range of motion issues

Muscle stiffness

Aching muscles following sport

Chronic pain

Injury

The reason that sports massage is so successful for so many people is that it was developed to help athletes in the following ways:

Get them ready for optimal performance

Help them to recover faster after performance

Improve function and performance during training

A sports massage is very important as part of the athletes training program. This is as

important as warming up or cooling down before or after intense training.

Sports massage can help to remove the aches and pains that are built up over time. This is true for professional athletes and members of the public.

If you are engaged in any sports or recreational activity, then you can benefit from a sports massage.

What’s more, you don’t need to visit a professional all the time. You can learn to practice

a self-massage.

You don’t need to accept aches and pains and suffer. Either you or the therapist can use their hands (or instruments) to find these muscular problems and then deal with them.

This will improve your performance (if you are involved in any sport) and it will also improve your overall health.

This is because a sports massage will reduce the risk of injury and increase the range of motion in your joints.

If you have muscular imbalances, then these things can also be corrected with both sports massage and the correct strengthening exercises

Besides these obvious benefits, a sports massage will also increase your flexibility, remove tension and stress, remove swelling and remove fatigue.

Many people feel a new sense of energy when they finish having their sports massage.

Massage works alongside the natural healing process in the body. This occurs because

a massage will increase the blood flow to certain areas of the body.

This means that any problems or injuries can be quickly recovered from by manipulating the flow of blood to vital tissues.

The real benefits of a massage As I said in the opening pages, sport massage is extremely beneficial to people from all walks of life. It is not just useful for the professional athlete.

If you lead a busy lifestyle then it is very possible that you are dealing with work related stress. This is very difficult to avoid in today’s busy workplace.

Work related stress is something that massage can certainly help with. It will aid in preventing serious injury while also healing your body.

The physical symptoms of work related stress are often forgotten or unknown by many people. You must recognise that stress is manifested in physical aspects as well as mental.

If you have a small injury then this can become much more serious when stress is added as an outside factor.

The most common physical symptoms besides headaches are back and neck pain. The physical pain of stress comes from sitting at a desk for an extended period of time every day.

Stress can also be caused in places other than the office.

People who earn a living through manual labour are very prone to stress and injuries also.

The heavy loads that are placed on people who work in construction or other manual

labour jobs are extensive.

Such people often have more problems with their deep tissues which sports massage can certain help with.

If you have work related stress and engage in sports or exercise, then you are very likely to have scar tissue, muscle tightness and a host of other problems that a sports massage can help you with

Office stress If you sit a computer desk for extended periods of time then you will know the effects that it has on your body.

These days, employees are starting to understand the serious implications this has on their workforce and how it can reduce productivity.

If you do sit at a desk for long periods of time then you need to take regular rests and massages in order to counteract the effects.

Massage will really reduce the stress levels as it works on the body and the mind at the same time.

Companies with employees should certainty think about introducing mobile massage units in order to reduce stress and create a more relaxing work environment.

This will in turn increase the productivity of the employees and also reduce the number of people who take sick leave through work related stress.

Work related stress Most people suffering from work related stress often wait until it’s too late to deal with the causes and seek help.

Often, this means that injuries arise or they suffer in a lot of pain. This does not need to be the case.

If you feel more tired than normal, exhausted or feel pain in parts of your body that are normally fine, you should seek out a massage therapist.

If you don’t go to a massage therapist, then at least invest in a handheld device that lets you massage part of your own body.

These home massagers give you drug free pain relief when you need it. They also give you a powerful deep tissue massage.

Other quick benefits include:

Reduced risk of future injury

Improved circulation

Improved muscle tone

Relief from constant cramping

More flexible joints

These are a great investment and let you heal your body in the comfort of your own home. They also bring a great deal of relaxation to your mind.

If you suffer from work related stress, have golfer’s elbow, tennis elbow, general sporting aches and pains or muscle fatigue then you should think about a sports massager for home use.

Never let the stress or physical pain get too bad before seeking out the benefits that a simple sports massage can bring you.

It is also a very good idea to take a regular massage as part of a preventative plan.

This will help to prevent injuries and also give you mental relaxation.

If you engage in regular sports massages, you will also increase your overall wellbeing and health.

This is due to the pressure on the soft tissues and the good circulation of blood.

If you are involved in some form or activity or sport, then this is very important. Small injuries or knots in the muscles can be turned in to serious problems when stress is involved.

Of course, these things can bring you benefits in every aspect of your life. If you feel happier and healthier, you will engage in more activities and also simply enjoy life more.

As you can see, a sports massage can really bring many benefits. You can feel much better, more flexible, reduce the chances of injury and also strengthen your soft tissues with a sports massage.

WHAT IS THERAPEUTIC SPORTS MASSAGE?

Therapeutic sports massage is a certain type of massage technique that deals with issues relating to soft tissue aches, pains and injuries.

These things are all related to recreational activities.

In these circumstances, massage can reduce muscle stiffness and over time may also reduce the heart rate and blood pressure.

This has the effect of producing a relaxing effect on the patient.

Therapeutic sports massage is performed by applying pressure to the soft tissues. This results is an increase in joint motion, decrease in muscle stiffness and improved muscle flexibility.

Following the massage you will experience the following:

A feeling of total relaxation

An improved general mood

A reduction in any stress that you had

Reduced anxiety

Other physiological benefits

Sometime this is immediate, however sometimes after a massager you may feel quite tired and need further rest. You should then feel the full benefits within a 24-48 hour period, this depends on the individual.

As you can see, a Therapeutic sports massage has more than just physical benefits. It will also give you an improvement in attitude and outlook on your life.

Massage is defined as the systematic manipulation of the soft tissues in the human body. It is a natural therapy that principally treats musculoskeletal problems.

By treating the soft tissues, it gives a curative effect to the body as the soft tissues are made more pliable and blood circulation is improved.

As the soft tissues are made more pliable and the blood flow increases, the healing benefits on the body are also increased.

These benefits include both physical and psychological changes that improve general wellbeing.

How are the massage benefits applied? The massage benefits are brought about when the massage therapist uses their hands to apply systematic pressure on your body.

There are a number of different techniques involved in a massage.

There are also many different strokes that can be used. These will depend on the patient, the health of the patient, the situation and so on.

Some of the most common therapist techniques are:

Stroking and gliding (effleurage)

Kneading the soft tissues (petrissage)

Percussion/ Friction (tapotement)

The three strokes above are now going to be explained on the next page. This will give the information that you need to know and understand.

3 STROKES OF A SPORTS MASSAGE

There are 3 main strokes used in sports massage. It is useful to know these strokes so they are listed below:

1. Effleurage

this is a gliding stroke using with the palms, fingertips and thumbs. This technique is

generally used at the beginning and end of a sports massage.

2. Petrissage

here you use the hands with a kneading movement. You use the fingers and the thumbs on the deeper tissues.

This helps to bring about relaxation and stretch the muscle fibres and mobilize fluids.

3. Friction

this is done with circular pressure, using the palms, thumbs and fingers. This is really

used to find the more serious issues located in the deeper tissues.

The strokes will break down lesions and recent scar tissue. This stroke can also separate muscle fibres.

Only use this stroke for short periods of time as it can cause irritation and inflammation if over used.

If you see a sports massage therapist you will understand the different strokes in more detail. You will also be able use these on yourself.

Some of the massage strokes can also be done with an electric massager, which makes the softer strokes much easier to perform.

Remember when buying an electric sports massager that you need to watch out for those that just rub the skin. These are very poor and don’t offer many benefits.

The Aldrah Health Pro Sports Massager delivers a powerful vibratory massage with an undulating motion. This means that you gain maximum effect from the massager, and reach the deeper layers of muscles without the risk of bruising the muscle which can often happen with manual massage by hand.

Later in the guide you will be given a tutorial on how to perform a self-massage.

That tutorial will use the three main strokes listed above, but it will contain more information

about where to begin, how to use your hands and how much pressure to use.

If you visit a sports massage therapist, then you will know what they are doing by reading the three main strokes used above. This gives you a good idea of where to begin.

In the next section, you will find out what to expect when you visit a sports massage therapist.

WHAT DOES A SPORTS MASSAGE INVOLVE? During a sports massage, your blood will be stimulated, as will lymph fluids. This is different to a number of other massages as it’s actually a type of Swedish massage.

There are some sports massage movements that use a process called trigger point therapy.

This method allows the person to break down the adhesions, commonly known as knots

in the muscles.

This increases the range of motion for the muscles being massaged.

There are four main types of sports massage available. They are listed below. The details of what’s involved is also given:

1. Pre-event sports massage

this is a short massage that lasts for about 15-45 minutes.

It is used to stimulate the person just before an event or exercise, focusing on the areas of the body that are going to be involved during exercise.

2. Post-event sports massage

this massage should be given within an hour after the event or exercise. It is used to normalise the body’s tissues.

3. Restorative sports massage

this massage is used during actual training or exercise. It will let the person train harder

and reduce the risk of injury.

4. Rehabilitative sports massage

this massage is specially used to alleviate pain caused by an injury. It should help to

restore the body to good health.

A sports massage is performed by a certified sports massage therapist. The sports massage

therapist can also create and design a plan for you if you would like to have regular sessions.

You can find sports massage therapists in a number of different places as they are becoming more popular and widespread.

Some of the most obvious places to find them are in shopping malls, leisure centres, at home, hospital, spas, health retreats and also in the workplace (depending on where you work).

You can search for sports massage therapists online or look in the yellow pages.

Understanding the different types of sports massages listed above is very beneficial, as you can tell the therapist exactly what you need and know what to expect.

WHEN SHOULD I GET A SPORTS MASSAGE?

One of the best times to get a sports massage is when you have a specific problem or injury.

This is generally the time that most people receive a sports massage. However it’s often best to use a massage as a preventative measure and to help rejuvenate your muscles.

If you are a regular runner or hiker then you may find yourself having trouble with your knee joints.

This is quite common. The good news is that a sports massage therapist can treat a tender knee.

For this type of injury it is best to see a movement therapist who will be able to find and locate the cause of the problem.

This will often be caused by the way you are running or putting weight on your feet.

Many times a simple adjustment to a specific muscle group can heal the injury or help to start the healing process before it becomes much worse.

This can quickly ease the pain and prevent it from returning.

Another good example is a frozen shoulder or pulled muscle. In such instance the therapist will focus and massage the specific area instead of providing a full body massage.

In the following pages, you will see specific remedies and massages for people with specific

activities or sports.

All of those mentioned will allow you to help yourself and also give you the choice of using a professional should you wish.

If you have any muscle tension then you should think about having a sports massage. It’s the knots that appear in the muscles that can turn into a more serious injury if they are not dealt with.

Many people think stretching is enough to remove this problem, but this is not the case.

A

massage offers far more relief than stretching alone can.

In

fact stretching after a massage offers the very best benefit, when scar tissue and

knots are released and broken down. However Stretching without any kind of massage has more risk and is no where near as effective.

SPORTS MASSAGE FOR WALKERS

Many people use walking as their main source of exercise. Walking is a brilliant form of exercise, but it can also cause muscle tension.

If you are a keen walker then you should also think about having a sports massage or doing some simple exercises on yourself.

Here’s why…

During and after a long walk your muscles can become knotted. This can often cause old injuries to flare up again, as these areas are the weakest parts of your body.

You should also pay attention to overuse injuries from too much repetitive activity.

This is where sports massage can give you tremendous benefits.

It will help to realign your body’s balance and posture (tension in the body means that you posture and balance will be thrown off).

As you are aware, poor balance and posture quickly leads to injury and it causes a reduction in performance levels.

The sports massage will work on the knots and tight areas in your body in order to massage out the knots.

This will remove the stress on your body (particularly in muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints).

A sports massage will also increase the blood flow and quickly rejuvenate aching muscles

after a long walk.

Massaging will remove the lactic acid and toxins that naturally build up from exercise.

If you are a regular walker and want to continue without muscle stress and injury then pay attention to the flowing areas. These are the ones that get the most stress during any endurance walk:

Hamstrings (back of the upper leg)

Quadriceps (front of the thigh)

Adductors (adducts the thigh at the front)

Gastrocnemius (calf muscle)

Knees

Ankles

Plantar fascia (thick connective tissue in the foot)

piriformis (buttocks area)

gluteals (major muscles of the buttocks)

iliopsoas (dorsal hip muscles)

It is also important to pay attention to your lower back during a long walk. This is an area that becomes stressed, as muscle imbalances in your body are present.

If you have lower back pain (even occasionally), you will find a great deal of benefit from

a back massage.

Of course, the final thing to mention is that a foot massage is also a great idea. This will really relieve the aches and stress in your feet and gives them a fresh feeling right away.

Foot massages are very good for overall rejuvenation and considered important for organ functioning in Chinese medicine (whether you choose to believe this or not).

The next page is going to show you how to give yourself a foot massage. This is great for walkers, runners and other endurance athletes.

It is also a good for anyone who plays sports that require a lot of walking. Golf is a great example of this and golfers will benefit immensely from this technique.

SELF-MASSAGE FOR THE FEET

You will find that a foot massage is very soothing and relieves a lot of stress from your entire body, not just your feet.

Keep in mind, you are walking on your feet all day, so there is going to be a lot of stress placed on them. This is amplified when you exercise.

Use the following technique on both feet. You can also do this more than once on each foot if you want.

1. Firstly sit on a chair with your feet flat on the floor.

2. Bring one foot on to your opposite knee/ thigh area

3. Rub some lotion or massage oil onto the foot. This is optional, so you can decide for

yourself.

4. Start to apply pressure with your thumb, to the sole of your foot. The best way to do

this is to work from the bottom of your arch to the big toe. Do this at least 5 times.

5. Now make a fist and press your knuckles into the bottom of your foot. Start at your

heel and work toward your toes. Do this 5 times as well.

6. Massage each toe. To do this, hold it firmly and start moving it from side to side. Now

extend each toe out and away from the ball of your foot.

7. Now apply pressure to the areas in between your toes.

8. Next, hold your toes in one hand and bend them backwards. Hold them in this position

for five to 10 seconds. Now bend them in the opposite direction and hold for 5 to 10

seconds. Do this 3 times.

9. Finally, press and roll your thumbs between the bones in the balls of your feet. Do this

for each foot.

PRE EVENT MASSAGE

Having a sports massage before an event can be one of the best things for your body and your mind. Not only does it let the muscles relax throughout your body, it also lets your mind relax.

This is obviously a key component in performing well in any activity or sport, so it should be something you seriously consider.

You don’t have to see a professional before the event, although that is a great option. You can also massage yourself or use a powerful electric massager as a perfect substitute.

Either way, a pre event massage will create a sense of readiness in your muscles so that you’re more likely to perform to your potential.

The massage is best done about fifteen to forty-five minutes before the event. You don’t need to warm up before the massage as some people think. The massage itself is done to increase the blood flow.

You need to pay special attention to the specific muscles that will be used during the event. This will make the pre event massage most successful and useful.

Focusing on the muscles that will be used during the performance will also reduce the chance of any injuries occurring during the sports or activity.

See the next page for how to best perform a sports pre event massage.

PERFORMING A PRE EVENT MASSAGE

It is important that the pre event massage is conducted in the right manner.

The massage needs to be done at a controlled and moderate pace, so don’t rush through it if you are performing a self-massage.

Keep the contact quite light and don’t go above 15 minutes in duration.

You don’t have to perform a full massage routine on yourself.

If you are with a professional then tell him or her that you are going to be performing soon.

They will know not to complete the massage routine if you are going to be competing soon.

Because you are going to be competing soon, it is best to be conservative with the massage. Therefore it’s better to do too little instead of too much.

As such, you never want to do any deep muscle therapy before a sport.

You need to keep everything light in order to stimulate the blood flow instead of digging into muscles to remove knots.

This deep tissue work should be dealt with earlier so that you can gain the maximum benefits. Don’t leave it until the day of the performance before having a massage if you know you have some issues.

Build up slowly and deal with the main issues first.

SPORTS MASSAGE ADVICE

Because many people don’t really understand sports massage, I want to give you a number of different tips and pieces of advice here.

Pay attention to these things and you can really see some tremendous benefits with sports massage:

Sports massage done through clothing is very effective. You can perform the strokes fast and without lubricant. Keep the session below half an hour.

If you are in any doubt about which stroke to use, you should vibrate the muscle.

Always start with light compression. From here you can move to a deeper compression gradually.

Have some ice packs ready in case you need them. If you are very new to sports massage, then your muscles might cramp up on the first attempt. This is why you need to keep the pressure light to begin with.

Deep tissue work should be done with caution. It should never be done before an event.

Deep tissue work should also be used with caution following a sporting event or activity session.

Always drink plenty of plain water. If you can find filtered water then this is the best type of drink. You need to be well hydrated during and after a sports massage as your muscles have been manipulated and an increased blood flow has been created.

If your muscles do cramp up, then remain calm. Don’t panic. Just let your body’s rhythms take over.

After the cramp is over, place ice on the muscle and keep it present for about 2 hours afterwards.

Also, after the cramp reduces, try to do some slight stretching. Be patient and take your time. Keep repeating the stretching action until the cramp pain leaves you completely.

It is best to have a post event sports massage session about one or two hours following your event. Also, ensure that you have a slow massage to prevent cramping.

SPORTS MASSAGE FOR THE LOWER BACK

In order to get the best results for the lower back, you can combine a number of different techniques. These are going to be listed over the next few pages.

You can ask someone you know to perform some of the techniques or you can visit a sports massage therapist.

Another option to perform a self-massage. The lower back is an area that you can reach on your own body.

The first technique is called Effleurage. Effleurage combines light stroking techniques by using the whole of the hand. When doing this, the purpose is to use light, smooth movements. You need to do this slowly.

The key is to cover as much space as possible.

The pressure should be gradually increased as you progress with the massage.

Effleurage is just at the start of the massage. It ensures the area is warm and helps the muscles become relaxed, in readiness for the deeper tissues work.

The next thing to do is stroke firmly from the bottom area to the top of the neck (obviously you can do this one yourself).

Remember to stroke toward the heart. This was covered earlier but it is very important. If you don’t stroke in the right direction, it can damage your veins.

From here, you should bring the hands down the sides of the body (back). Remain in contact with the body but don’t apply pressure during this time.

Keep repeating this movement and try to cover as much of the surface as possible.

Repeat this technique at least three to five minutes. As you progress, gradually apply more pressure to the back on the up strokes (not the downward strokes).

SPORTS MASSAGE EXPECTATIONS

A sports massage will usually take place in a private space or room inside the massage therapy centre.

In most cases, you will need to partially undress for the sports massage.There are also some sports massage strokes that are done through your clothes. This will be explained to you by the massage therapist.

You will be given a towel to place over your body if you need to undress.

Always be clean when arriving for your sports massage. This is not only for hygienic reasons but also for skin care reasons.

Generally, the sports massage will take place on a flat massage bed. This means you will be lying down, especially if the trouble areas are your back or neck.

There are occasions when you will need to sit down on a chair. Again, this will depend on the type of massage and where the sports massage is focused.

The sports massage can last from fifteen minutes to 1 hour depending on what you have agreed with the massage therapist.

Remember that sports massage is specially tailored to sporting injuries or ailments. This means that it can be quite vigorous at certain times.

You need to be prepared for the feelings of having a deep tissue massage on your body. When you have knots, the feeling can be quite acute when they are being worked on. This needs to be taken into consideration before you go.

MAXIMISING FITNESS LEVELS

If you have serious athletic dreams or want to perform at your best in your sport, then you know that you need to be as fit and healthy as possible.

Of course, training to reach the peak state in your sport is hard. It involves hours of training and can place a lot of stress on your body.

The time that you give yourself to recover in between training sessions is very important. Your body needs the right conditions and the time periods in order to totally recover, get stronger and prevent injuries from occurring.

As such, taking care of your body so that you continually improve and don’t get injured is very important.

In fact, even if you only like to keep fit, then staying injury free is the most important factor.

As you know, an injury (even a minor one) can put you out of action for days or even weeks.

Sports massage is one of the tools that you have at your disposal to maximize your health and performance.

Did you know that Michael Phelps has two sports massages each day? He recognises that his routine needs to include more than just the exercises in the pool.

It is just as important to care for the body’s muscles and deal with the expected wear and tear that goes along with any exercise.

Having sports massages will deal with the wear and tear that naturally occur via exercise. Sports massages will also deal with minor injuries before they become serious.

When you are able to deal with injuries when they are still minor, while also repairing the body, you can spend more time doing the sports or activities that you love or want to succeed in.

Sports massage has similar techniques to other massage therapies, but there are some differences that help the muscles to stretch easier.

For example, while the basic techniques used in sports massage are very similar to other forms of therapeutic massage, the sports massage may apply the techniques a little differently.

As I said above, these differences help the muscles and soft tissues to stretch more easily.

When getting a sports massage you will see how the therapist uses a number of different frictioning techniques. These are not generally used in other forms of massage.

The fricitioing techniques involve a process of massaging the tendons across the fibres repeatedly.

This is done to break down any adhesions and soften the scar tissue that has built up over time.

The exact techniques to be used will be different for each individual. The sports massage therapist will choose the precise techniques to be used.

The main goal that sports massage therapy works towards is ease any muscle tension, improve the circulation and increase the mobility of the patient.

The sports massage frequency will be decided by the intensity and regularity of sports or activity.

Most professionals get sports massages during their training sessions.

They schedule in the times when they need more recovery and when the massage won’t impact their training.

For some people, this will be impractical or simply too much.

When should I schedule a sports massage? If you are moderately active in your exercise then you should get a sports massage between your most strenuous training days. However it is often recommended to have an 'easy' day after your massage to help the body recover, adapt and get the full benefit of treatment before over working the fibres again.

The reason for this time scale is to allow your muscles to recover much more quickly.

It also means that you are far less likely to get injured in your next training session, practice or game.

When choosing a sports massage, it is important to see a professional with the proper certification.

As with other therapeutic massages, there are many specialisations so it’s good to speak to a few before choosing.

You need to ensure that the massage therapist understands your needs.

You can also find sports massage professionals that work with specific people. There are some that only work with athletes, or with young people.

On that note, if you have a child, then you should ensure they are at least twelve years old before letting them have a sports massage.

Sports massages are certainly beneficial for young people engaged in sports and exercise, but wait until there are in their teenage years. If they have sports massages before puberty, the soft bones and joint space can be injured.

TIMES TO AVOID SPORTS MASSAGE

There are a number of instances when you should avoid having a sports massage. In certain circumstances, you might cause yourself more harm than good.

Here is the list of the times when you need to avoid having a sports massage:

Acute traumas – if you have open wounds, muscle tears, sprained ligaments, contusions, chilblains, burns or recent bruising, then you need to avoid a sports massage at this time.

High body temperate – if your body temperate is over 100 degrees Fahrenheit then you need to avoid a sports massage. You should also avoid it if you feel unwell.

Diseased blood vessels – if you have varicose veins, phlebitis and thrombosis then don’t have a sports massage.

Cancer

Melanoma

Haemophilia

Prescribed the drug ‘Warfarin’

Infectious skin diseases – if you have bacterial infection, lymphangitis, fungal infections, viral infections or herpes then avoid sports massages.

One other thing that you need to be aware of is diabetes.

If you suffer from diabetes then you need to know that a massage has the same effect as exercise on your blood sugar levels.

As such, remember to have the medicine available.

As you can see above, you need to be careful of sports massage in certain circumstances.

You can discuss your issues with a qualified therapist, as you may be able to alleviate some of the pain with light massage.

However, you will not be able to have a deep tissue massage when you have the conditions listed above.

SPORTS MASSAGE PREVENTS INJURY

Sports massage can prevent injury in a number of different ways. It focuses on the individual in question and can be used before, during and after athletic events.

The reason that it prevents injury is that it prepares the body for peak performance. Sports massage alleviates muscle stress and tension.

It also relieves swelling that might be present while draining away fatigue.

Besides these obvious injury prevention benefits, it also promotes flexibility which is very important for preventing injury.

There are many people (not just professional athletes) that injure themselves because of poor flexibility issues. These issues can raise themselves in different parts of the body.

For example, poor flexibility in the neck can result in a pulled muscle, even as you sit at your desk.

If you are involved in general fitness, like to play golf or football at the weekend, then being more flexible is a huge benefit. It will not only help you play but will also prevent any injury from occurring.

Injury is prevented because sports massage will greatly aid with recovery following any form of exercise.

This is even more important if your exercise was intense and strenuous.

Most weekend sports people, or those who engage in exercise on an occasional basis don’t realise that their performance can be greatly enhanced with a sports massage.

An increase in performance and ability is closely linked with the prevention of injury.

This is why having a sports massage is such a positive process to be engaged in.

Injury can be prevented as it works to alleviate the build up of stress and tension in your body. The tension is located in the soft tissues and is built up during physical activity.

This means that regardless of the sport or activity you are involved with, the tension is being built in your soft tissues.

The sports massage will be performed depending on the area that needs to be addressed. The techniques will be based on the blend of Swedish massage strokes and shiatsu.

The sports massage procedure directly prevents injuries with the 3 main strokes involved. The gliding strokes are done first to prepare the muscles.

Next, the kneading movements are used with the hands, thumbs and fingers to reach the deeper tissues.

This is where the muscles fibres are stretched and fluids are mobilised.

This process of the deep tissues massage also induces relaxation in to the muscles.

The final stroke is done with circular pressure. This will break down the lesions and scar tissue that is present.

These strokes directly prevent these lesions for creating more serious injuries in the surrounding muscles.

As you can see, a sports massage has a direct effect on the muscles of the body and directly prevents injuries from occurring, providing you reach the scar tissues and lesions soon enough.

SPORTS MASSAGE & RECOVERY

Sports massage enhances the recovery process of anyone involved in sports or exercise. Of course, this leads directly to an increase in the performance level of the person involved.

Recovery is essential for anyone who wants to remain healthy and wants to keep increasing their performance level.

Whether you are a professional athlete or a weekend golfer, recovery is paramount if you want to enjoy your sport and remain active.

Massage has a long history of being used in the recovery process for athletes and people engaged in sports. It is also linked to high performance sport.

Most athletes have a specific plan for recovery, as they know how important active recovery really is. This is something that sports massage can really hep with.

Sports massage not only helps professional athletes but people from everyday walks of life.

The benefits of sports massage for recovery have now been accepted by empirical evidence. It is now accepted that there needs to be a careful and a systematic use of sports massage in competition.

This is due to the over-working of specific muscle groups. The muscles groups in question will be different for different sports and different activities.

This is true for professional athletes and recreational sports people also. If you don’t address these issues then they can lead to short-term reduction in the power output/ performance.

As the effects of sports massage are now known to help with the speed of recovery from physical activity, it makes sense to make use of it.

If you want to increase your performance in any activity or sports, then a sports massage might be something that you have not considered.

You can attend a sports massage therapist or perform a self-massage. There are some examples of this in this guide.

I am also going to outline a number of other special self-massage techniques later in the guide.

Right now, we are going to look further into the recovery process and how sports massage can really help you in this regard.

Sports massage is also a great compliment to other therapies as it greatly enhances and speeds up recovery due to wide ranging benefits.

The other therapies that it complements very well include physiotherapy, osteopathy, chiropractic and even medical surgery.

If you have used any of the methods listed above, then you are a very good candidate for a sports massage.

The reason that sports massage help with active recovery from exercise is because of the physiological effects. These include the changes in the blood flow, which pump blood to the areas most needed.

This is great if you have been exercising one particular muscle groups or one specific muscle groups intensely. Generally this is always the case in sports or exercise.

A good example is the legs when running or cycling.

How does sports massage aid recovery? When you are able to pump more blood to these muscles and focus on removing the toxins or increasing the space between muscles fibres, you will drastically increase the rate of recovery.

The other benefits of sports massage when increasing the rate of recovery are reduced levels of fatigues in the soft tissues.

Of course, if are able to reduce the length of fatigue, then you can train again much sooner.

What’s more, you can also increase your health and reduce injuries as the fatigue goes away.

Sport massage enhances sleep Recovery is also enhanced as research shows that an enhancement in sleep is seen following a sports massage.

Of course, sleep itself is vital to the recovery of the human body.

This is the time that the body restores the nutrients, and releases the hormones needed

to build strong muscles. It is also the period of time in which most physical recovery takes place.

Other recovery benefits include a reduction of swelling and discomfort in the muscles.

It has been shown that a sports massage is very helpful to speed up this process.

Sports massage increases flexibility On top of this, you can also expect the sports massage to give you an increase in flexibility and strength following a massage. This is great both before and after any exercise or sport.

Many people don’t realise that strength is closely related to flexibility. Indeed, the more flexible the muscles, the more strength you can build in it.

This means that having flexible muscles is very important if you want to be as strong as possible and also remain injury free.

By using a sports massage, you can increase your flexibility and also reduce the chance of injury. In effect, you can combine the benefits into one session.

If you are involved in sports or any exercise then you are putting your body under stress. You can only exercise again at full capacity if you body has healed.

If you want to stay injury free and healthy, you need to have some form of recovery plan.

A sports massage will fit into your recovery plan perfectly.

When you put your body under increased loads (more than it is generally used to) then you cause microscopic damage to the muscle and fascial tissue.

This is called micro-trauma and needs to be healed.

During the natural recovery process that the human body goes through, your body will go through an adaption phase.

This is how the human body protects itself and grows stronger. In other words, the body grows stronger in order to protect itself.

Of course there are usually some side effects of any training or physical exercise. These cannot be completely avoided, but they can certainly be dealt with.

As training leads to an increase and usually abnormal muscle tension, you will often feel your muscles tightening. Generally, people will complain of stiff muscles.

Of course, this prevents you playing or exercising at your maximum.

It doesn’t matter if you are playing a round of golf or rowing on the rowing machine, it will stop you from being at your best, and can also lead to injuries.

These changes are what often lead to injury. The damaging changes in the soft tissues cause the muscle fibres to be disorganised.

This leads to scar tissue forming. It also leads to adhesions developing. This takes place when muscle, fascia and other tissues stick to one another.

This is when a reduction in flexibility occurs, which impacts your range of motion and reduces your performance to a certain degree.

This is also when a serious injury is most likely to happen.

Why do tight muscles prevent recovery? Tight muscles reduce the blood flow. The proper blood flow is essential as this is what transports the needed nutrients and oxygen required for effective recovery.

As the muscle tissue is under a sustained amount of stress, it is very possible that certain trigger points can be created. At these points a risk of injury in greatly increased.

This is also enhanced if the area that was exercised underwent a previous injury.

Also, tight muscles slow the removal of metabolites. These can get stagnated in the muscles tissues, which lead to inflammatory effects and muscle pain.

How do tight muscles cause injury? Tight muscles cause injury because tightness in one group causes imbalances in other muscles groups. The other muscle groups will try to compensate for those not working correctly.

This causes muscle imbalances and will eventually show up as an injury in some part of the body. The area usually affected is generally the weakest part.

When the tightness of one muscle is not addressed, it will cause biomechanical problems to develop.

This will often lead to joint problems such as:

Knees

Back

Pelvis

Groin

Neck

Muscle imbalances also affect the posture, which is a very common problem for many people.

There are many people walking around with postural problems due to muscle imbalances. These are often the result of sitting at a desk all day and not doing any exercise.

Of course, they can also occur through doing exercise. These can be limited or avoided with sports massages.

One common symptom of tight muscles is one dominant side of the body to another. You can also find dominant muscles on the body.

How does muscle tightness affect performance? Muscle tightness interferes with the nerve feedback mechanisms. These are essential for good control of your movements.

As such muscle tightness has a very powerful effect on how able you are perform certain movements and exercises.

Again, this will restrict your movement, which limits your performance, but also increase the chances of injury.

If you are able to deal with these tight muscles, you can remove the chances of both occurring.

The extra tension in the muscles will also add more stress to the muscle attachments sites. This is also true of tendons.

While it can cause injury at these particular locations, the muscles themselves are also very susceptible to injury.

All of these things limit your recovery time and determine the health and fitness of your body.

As a conclusion to the recovery section, lets cover the main aspects again:

Sports massage aids in the recovery process as it will help to remove the toxins from the muscles.

Sport massage aid recovery as it will supply and draw more oxygen and nutrients to the areas needed. This will lead to a faster recovery time and it will be easier to return to activity much sooner.

Sports massage helps with recovery as it decreases the sensation of fatigue in the muscles.

Sports massage aids in the recovery process by reducing muscle spasms and normalising muscle tone.

Sports massage aids in the recovery process as it breaks down adhesions and breaks up muscle fibres that have stuck together.

Sport massage will reduce excessive muscle tension, increase the range of motion in the joints and reduce stress on the muscle and joint junctions. This will certainly help to prevent injury and increase the rate of recovery.

Sport massage will offer the patient many physiological benefits and also encourage much better sleep. As sleep is very important for effective recovery, the sports massage directly increases the rate of recovery in this instance.

SELF-MASSAGE TUTORIAL

There are three basic strokes that you need to learn for a self-massage to be effective. Everyone can learn a few simple massage techniques to help themselves recover and feel better in a much faster time.

The main strokes that you need to learn at the moment are:

The Glide The Squeeze Drumming.

Once you have these three strokes learned, you can just apply some simple variations for the area of the body you are working on.

You can then use sports massage strokes anywhere from your head to your toes.

The good news is that you don’t need any massage oil or special massage beds. You just need to be willing to learn the following techniques and learn about your sense of touch.

Here’s the first stroke:

The Glide The glide stroke is called effleurage by the professionals. This is the stroke that sports massage therapist always use first.

The best way to think about this is the glide, slide or skimming motion on your body.

Sit down and try it out on your legs. You will quickly notice how warm your hands and your legs become. This is the main reason for using this technique first.

It is used to warm up your body before the more intense massage strokes are brought into action.

One important rule to keep in mind is this: when applying pressure you need to move in the direction of your heart.

This helps to move blood back toward your heart (this has also been covered earlier in the guide but I know some people like to skip sections so I need to repeat myself).

Start with ten gliding strokes up and down your thigh muscle. The key is moving light pressure away from your heart and more intense pressure as you move towards it.

You can practice this stroke on your leg. Keep gliding your hands up and down your thigh, varying the pressure in order to get a sense for the touch needed.

Use strokes with different speeds and pressure in order to get a good idea of how it should be done. Pay attention to the feeling.

When you reach to you toes, you also give yourself a little stretch, which is very beneficial.

Once the first leg is warmed and massaged, you can move on to the other leg.

Follow the same guidelines as above. Ensure that you cover the entire surface of the leg.

It should feel relaxing and actually give you a good sensation. It does take some time to get used to, so don’t expect everything to be right on the first attempt.

Let move onto the second self-massage stroke.

The Squeeze The squeeze is the second stroke that we are going to cover. It is called the squeeze because it compresses the muscles that you are going to be squeezing.

The purpose of the stroke is to warm up your skin and the soft tissues in your body. This will increase the circulation of the blood, which brings in nutrients and oxygen into your cells.

It also ejects the toxins from your body. These toxins will have built up during exercise (for example running).

This is a very good technique because it feeds and cleans the muscle cells that have been placed under intense stress during the exercise that you have been taking part in.

Here’s how to practice the squeeze stroke:

You can start to practice this technique by squeezing your calf muscles.

Interlace your fingers and place the muscle between your hands. From here you squeeze your hands together.

Start at the bottom of your calf and then move up toward your heart. From the toes

up. Remember the reasons for this were given above.

Focus on keeping your calf muscles relaxed, but start to vary the intensity of your squeeze. Also, alter the area that you are covering with the squeeze.

Practice by doing at least ten squeeze massage strokes.

Once you have done this, move onto the other leg.

From here, try to squeeze your entire leg by starting at your Achilles heel. From this point, move up the leg as far as you can go.

You can start to use two hands at this point. Be patient and take your time. Remember to keep pressing and compressing the muscles as you move up the leg.

Once you have both legs complete with the squeeze stroke, you can either do this again or move onto the third stroke.

The next self-massage stroke is called the drum.

The Drum The third stroke that you need to use for a self-massage is the drum. It is called drumming because it’s a stimulating massage stroke.

It is done by using your hands to actually drum on your body. You can think of your body as a musical instrument. Don’t drum to hard to begin with, to avoid hurting yourself.

As you practice more and more with self-massage, you will begin to learn about both the massage technique and the amount of pressure that is required.

You can use this technique with a simple easy tapping rhythm.

You can use your hands, flat open hands, the sides of your hands, or any other part of your hand that feels good to you.

As with the other two massage strokes, start at your toes and move up toward the larger muscles of your body.

Start with one leg and compete it. From here, you can then move onto the other one. You will quickly get a good rhythm built up so you can then complete the process.

Practicing Self-Massage Now that you have started practicing self-massage fro yourself, you will soon improve your recovery rate and reduce the risk of injury.

You will also find that the self-massage gets easier every time that you practice.

It is certainly worth going to see a professional sports massage therapist, but learning self-massage is an excellent skill to have at your disposal.

Remember to practice it regularly following exercise. For example if you go running regularly, then it’s good to practice the three strokes during your training program.

This will greatly increase your recovery process and reduce any soreness.

Over time, you will notice that your general wellbeing has improved and you feel more energetic. This occurs because frequent massaging strengthens the immune system and encourages a positive mindset.

SPORTS MASSAGE FOR RUNNERS

If you are most involved in running then regular sports massages will be extremely beneficial to you.

This, more than any other sport, running places a great load on your legs and lower body.

As you have learned in the other sections, the excessive load will make muscle fibres group together and can make injury more likely to occur.

Fortunately, there are specific areas that you can focus on in order to reduce injury and recover much faster than usual.

You can see a certified sports massage therapist or apply some of the self-massage treatments yourself.

The main areas to focus on are the legs, buttocks and the lower back. These are the areas that receive the most stress during running.

If you are running more than three times per week, then you should have at least one sports massage each week. This is a very good guideline to follow and adopt.

Runners specific self-massage

1. The first thing that you need to do following the run is to soak your feet in water. The

water should be quite warm but not hot. Keep your feet in the water for 30 minutes.

2. Use your thumbs to apply direct pressure to your heels. You will need to push with

your thumbs quite hard. Do this for about 15 seconds at a time.

3. Remember to apply strong pressure to your heels in order to reach the soft tissues

beneath.

This is called a deep friction massage.

4. Massage your Achilles tendons next using the same process as above.

You will need to sit comfortably in a chair first, in order to do this.

5. Next, massage your calf muscles with a kneading action. You need to use a decent

amount of pressure and compression.

Make sure that you work any sore areas in order to break up tight muscle fibres and scar tissue.

The calves are one of the muscles that can get very tight when it’s exercised so work on this area.

6. Move to massage your thigh muscles now. You will need to apply firm pressure up

and down the front and the back of your thighs.

As with your calves, you need to work on the sore areas of your thighs with your thumbs and fingers.

Remember to use deep friction, as this will increase the blood flow and circulation in these muscles groups.

7. Running can also create pressure in your neck and shoulders. If you have been

running for a long time then it’s likely you have built up a lot of stress in these areas.

In order to work the neck and shoulders, you need to use thumb pressure and light

friction up and down the muscles at the back of your neck and across the shoulders.

A good tip here is to move your head from side to side.

You should also shrug your shoulders in order to relax this area of the body and bring in more blood, oxygen and nutrients.

If you follow the list of actions above then you will remove a lot of the tension and tightness in your body.

There are different reasons for needing a sports massage after a run.

Some people need their feet and calf muscles massaged most.

Other people need to focus on their knees and hips, and other people need to focus on their hamstrings.

Because everyone is different, they have different ways of responding to the stress from running.

If you are running regularly, then you probably need to have a regular massage also.

Learning to perform self-massage is a good skill. It’s also a good idea to have a handheld massage device available.

The best handheld massage devices combine pressure with vibration to maximise the circulation of blood in the area used.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD I GET A SPORTS MASSAGE

This really depends on the individual.

The more that you train and exercise, the more you will need a regular massage.

However as a very rough guide, you should have a minimum of one massage per month if you train about two or three times per week.

There are some of the top athletes that have a sports massage two of times per week. If you are a recreational sports person then a weekly massage would work for you very well.

This will prevent you from developing serious injuries and it will help you to recover quickly.

One thing that you need to remember is that you should not have a sports massage just before you exercise.

Everyone responds to sports massage in a different way, so you will need to discover how your body reacts.

This is the reason that you need to have your sports massage during a training period.

The number of sports massages will increase if you have small injuries.

If your sports massage therapist identifies knots, scar tissues or muscle fibres that are stuck together, then he or she will need to work on your body for a longer period of time.

Each session will increase your energy and increase the likelihood of a serious injury.

A reputable sports massage therapist with look to get your body back to great health in

the fastest period of time. This will determine how many sessions you need to book with

him or her.

It is much better to deal with the small injuries before they develop. Scar tissue can cause serious muscle imbalances and have knock on effects for other muscle groups.

If you have a sustained period of sports massages, you can remove the scar tissues and increase the blood flow in that area of the body.

Everyone responds at different rates, so you might recover faster than other people, or a little slower. As such, you need to be a little flexible with the number and regularity of sports massages.

Remember, often a therapist will give you exercises to do at home to speed up recovery of any injuries. Many recommend a powerful handheld home massage unit to assist you with this, such as the Aldrah Health Pro Sports Massager.

"As a Sports Therapist I often recommend to my patients to treat themselves in- between sessions to really speed up the

recovery process. The pro sports massager

is a great tool & powerful enough to have

a real positive effect - and I would certainly recommend patients to use it often on the

problem area before their next session with me to really boost recovery."

session with me to really boost recovery." Paul Medicott, Sports Therapist - U K www.thecommonspractice.co.uk

For more information on sports massage and the Aldrah Health pro sports massager for home use, go to: www.aldrahhealthpro.com