What is Sports Massage and how does it work?

Sports Massage in St. AlbansAs some of you are aware I am a Personal Trainer in St. Albans and Radlett.  What a lot of people are not aware of is in fact I am also a Sports Therapist and I offer a variety of treatments around that as well as the Personal Training (See Equilibrium Sports Therapy page on the Hourglass website).  A big part of Sports Therapy is Sports Massage and this blog is to explain what sports massage is and how it works.

What is Sports Massage?

There is often a lot of confusion between a Sports Massage and a Deep Tissue Massage and working as a Sports Massage Therapist in St. Albans and Radlett I get asked the question a great deal.

The official definition of a Sports Massage is “the scientific manipulation of soft tissue for injury prevention and therapeutic purpose, involving the restoration to normal functioning of the various structures of the body”. A Deep Tissue Massage has the therapist, usually a beautician if you go to a salon massaging the muscles harder and stronger than a regular Swedish massage. Sports Massage is a lot more technical and the practitioner has significantly more understanding of the workings of human body and its Kinetic functions. Sports Massage has enormous benefits and can significantly keep muscles supple, speed the healing process and guard against future injury.

How does Sports Massage Work?

Sports massage works deep into the specific affected muscles and through a range of specialised techniques helps the muscles to reclaim their normal elasticity. It stretches muscle fibres both transversely and longitudinally, releasing tension and adhesions in the fascia which can cause restricted movement and pain. Certain techniques are also designed to break down scar tissue and free up fibres of the tendons, ligaments and muscles to resume their proper function.

Often tense spots in muscles can act as trigger points for referred pain, particularly where the muscles have shortened due to over-use or misuse. In this case special massage techniques are used to release these points and ease off associated pain.

Over use or misuse of muscles can result in muscle spasm or chronic hyper-tonicity where the fibres are over-contracted. Massage pressure produces a pumping action that aids circulation providing lymph drainage and increased oxygen and other substances to the tissues for repair and growth. It helps stretch muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia and is the only way that some of the deep lying soft tissues can be reached.

What do Muscle Energy Techniques (MET’s) do?

When MET’s are used alongside the sports massage the effects on restoration of muscle tone are greatly enhanced. The techniques are particularly useful in treating hypertonic muscles, strengthening weak muscles, stretching and increasing the range of mobility. The practitioner will ask you to actively use certain muscles from a controlled position, in a specific direction and against counter force supplied by the practitioner. The relaxation period that follows the muscular contraction allows the muscles to be moved to a new resting length, thereby stretching the muscle fibres.

MET’s are therefore able to help improve joint mobility and functioning. These techniques are also very useful where imbalances in the strength of groups of muscles have caused pain and postural changes and work to address the imbalance and restore proper alignment. As a Sports Therapist I can then provide you with specific exercises to strengthen and stretch the appropriate muscles to avoid repetitive injury.

Sports Massage is suitable for a wide range of everyday situations besides sports and the term ‘sports’ massage is best interpreted as describing the style of massage and the techniques involved.

If you would like to know if a Sports Massage can help you contact Sarah Lister Morford who is based in London Colney (South St. Albans) and Radlett, contact details are at the top right of this page.

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