The manipulation of connective tissue and muscle is called massage. The process can be done in many ways, depending on which area of the body needs manipulating. It also has various benefits, including promotion of relaxation, healing, strength and flexibility, and overall well-being; sometimes people get massages for recreational purposes.
Massages involve applying pressure, motion, and vibration to the body, targeting the tendons, muscles, skin, joints, connective tissue, fascia, and tendons; organs of the gastrointestinal system and the lymphatic vessels are also targeted. Massages can be applied with a massaging device, elbows, hands, feet, fingers, and forearm.
What is a Sports Massage?
One of the most common types of massages is the sports massage. It is applied on the neuromusculoskeletal system to treat disability and pain. Initially, it was used for athletes in preparation for a game or any kind of sports they were involved in, after every performance/game, or for training. But these days, anyone can get this massage, especially when treating certain kinds of immobility, chronic pain, and injuries. Also called manual/manipulative or manual and manipulative therapy, this massage focuses on preventing and healing injuries in the tendons and muscles.
How is it Different From a Regular Massage?
A regular massage is offered at spas and clinics, treating stressed muscles. Manual therapy offers the same treatment as well. The difference between the two lies within two factors: the purpose of the massage and the techniques used. Almost anyone can do a regular massage, but only specific manual therapists have the skill and experience to perform a sports massage.
Two Types of Manual Therapy
Thirty minutes to twenty-four hours prior to a game or a sports event, a pre-event massage should be given. While the session isn’t as long as other kinds of massages, it’s still as important because it helps enhance one’s performance by targeting blood circulation, mental clarity, and flexibility.
A pre-event massage is different from a warm-up, but it is equally vital; in fact, it complements warm-ups. Your massage therapist must have prior knowledge of your sport, athletic conditions (if you have any), and other needs so that he/she is aware what kind of techniques to use. This massage is dedicated to applying light pressure on the muscles, just enough for the body to prepare itself for the sport event. Deep tissue work or too much tension applied may interfere with the already adequate flexibility and strength of the muscle.
A therapist must also consider the current condition of your body before the session begins. For instance, if your body is cold, activities have to be performed to increase the body temperature; in the same way, if the body is warm, certain exercises may need to be done to cool you down. If you are nervous before a game, soothing massages will be done to help you relax. Various techniques can be applied, according to your body’s needs.
After a sports event, it helps to relax the body if it gets a post-event manual therapy. Before an event, the body, particularly the muscles, are on high gear. To ease the transition from that state to a more relaxed one, calming massages is the solution. Because the body will be prone to muscle aches, hours up to days after a very strenuous activity or event, a good massage will aid in faster and pain-free recovery.
Massages that relaxes the muscle tone, restores flexibility, and enhance recovery are the three main targets of this particular type of manipulative therapy. Your therapist knows that your body will require rest and quick recovery to be ready for the next event in the coming days or weeks.
Another great thing about this massage is that it helps detect any potential injury or injury sustained from the event. Like any sickness or condition, it is better to prevent it than cure it. Early detection of a condition will help stop or at least manage it before it gets any worse.
Techniques and Benefits
This method initiates the massage. It’s done with rising deep forces using the whole palm. It promotes blood circulation and lymphatic drainage, as each stroke is targeted at the chest. Aside from starting the massage, it is also used for completing a session, augmenting the flow of oxygen to the focused area. This technique also involves applying light pressure to enhance relaxation.
Other benefits include:
- Detection of abnormalities
- Stimulation of the nerves
- Warm-up of tissues
A compression massage in the muscles triggers a softening effect as well as deep hyperemia. Like effleurage, this is typically used as a warm-up massage.
Generally, friction is relaxing and corrective. As a sports massage technique, this is utilized for deeper motions in order to disconnect muscle fibers and repair lesions. Although not a painful process, it can cause discomfort. It also makes the body less hypersensitive and the muscles less prone to spasms. In addition, friction enhances the body’s flexibility.
Kneading is used particularly in this method. One or more of these are also used: knuckling, pressing, skin rolling, lifting, and lifting. The deep tissues are emphasized, breaking down any nodules and adhesions, and enhancing the flow of fluids. And with stretching movements, the muscles become more relaxed.
Other advantages of this massage are:
- Warm-up of chief muscles
- Reduction of pain
- Helping the healing of damaged tissues
As helpful as a massage can be for treating the body from certain ailments and pain, there are certain limitations regarding the people who can take the therapy. If you have one or more of the following conditions, you must first refer a doctor, as the massage may not be good for you and/or your therapist, and may require special treatments.
- Heavy bruising
- Infectious skin disease
- Varicose veins
- Muscle rips
- Inflammation caused by tissue damage
- Open wounds
- Damaged ligaments
If you are suffering from any of these ailments, make sure that you inform your therapist before starting a session. If you are unaware that you are sick, it may be best to get yourself checked first.