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What is Sports Massage?
Sports Massage therapy at Joseph Miller Chiropractic is a special form of massage and is typically used before, during and after athletic events. The purpose of the massage is to prepare the athlete for peak performance, to drain away fatigue, to relieve swelling, to reduce muscle tension, to promote flexibility and to prevent injuries.
An integral part of any athlete's program should include measures to prevent injury. When injuries occur, athletes need to find ways to get themselves back to training as quickly as possible to maintain the fitness level that they worked so hard to achieve. Sports massage assists the athlete with injury prevention and rehabilitation by providing the following:
• enhance body awareness of muscle imbalances and tension/adhesion
• decrease unwanted tension, toxins and adhesion in soft tissue (i.e. muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia or connective tissue, nerves)
• increase flexibility and pliability of muscles
• introduce fresh nutrients to the area through increased circulation, which will expedite the healing process
How can sports massage help?
Sports massage could be incorporated at various stages of the athlete's program.
There are four types of sports massages:
• pre-event sports massage -- a short, stimulating massage 15 - 45 minutes before the event. It is directed toward the parts of the body that will be involved in the exertion. It will focus on priming the athlete ( ie. Bring fresh blood and oxygen) to face competition.
• post-event sports massage -- given within an hour or two of the event, to normalize the body's tissues. (relaxing - typically 20 to 60 minutes) flushes the muscles of toxins and decreases the tension, thereby preventing spasms and reducing DOMS ( delayed muscle onset soreness)
• restorative sports massage -- given during training to allow the athlete to train harder and with less injury. Injury prevention or maintenance massage (typically 30 to 90 minutes) is designed to support and prepare the body for the conditioning ahead. The aims are to flush from the athlete's body the causes of muscular fatigue, spasm and soreness (e.g. fascial restrictions, trigger points) that can potentially lead to injury. The athlete returns to training able to work at maximum capacity.
• rehabilitative sports massage -- aimed at alleviating pain due to injury and returning the body to health. Injury rehabilitation treatment of injury (typically 30 to 60 minutes) incorporates specific techniques such as ART, myofascial release, trigger point therapy among others to facilitate the athlete's recovery.
When should you receive a Sports Massage?
The therapist and athlete should both be aware of what works best for the athlete's training program. Tempo, duration and pressure will be modified depending on what stage the athlete is in. For example, if the athlete plans to have a heavy workout or race the next day, the massage should not be too deep as this would fatigue the muscles. In this case, treatments would best be planned for a day off from training. In some cases, it may be appropriate to train immediately after a treatment to retrain muscles freed from tension and adhesion.
Injury rehabilitation treatments are typically weekly and then decrease in frequency with healing progression. Injury prevention or maintenance treatments are typically once every 2 to 4 weeks depending on the type of training. The frequency may increase depending on when the event is. Athletes will develop a keen sense of what frequency works best for them as their experience with sports massage and training progresses. The therapist, athlete, and coach or personal trainer could review training plans as a team to determine what would best facilitate the athlete in injury prevention or rehabilitation.