What does sports massage actually do?

Jamie Fullerton
,
Head Physiotherapist
We get asked this question in almost all our initial sports massage sessions, so we decided to list some of the most common benefits of massage with some surprising details… As well as some myths and truths

We relax you: Stressed out about work, or your next competitive outing… We can help with that. 

Reduced tension: Almost the same as the above, however, the tension refers to the tension in the muscles. Reducing this results in less stress on muscle attachments and joints. Leading on to our next point… 

Increased range of movement: As the muscle relaxes, you allow yourself to move further into your natural range of movement (ROM) without pain and stiffness.

Increased blood supply: This is call an ‘Erythema’. The increased blood supply is key to all the benefits of the treatment. The increased blood supply brings extra fresh nutrients to the tissues to help them recover from the stress you put them under!

Increased mobility of scar tissue: This is an important one. There is a common misconception that scar tissue must be removed. However think of it this way… If you have a hole in a wall, you need new bricks to fill the hole. But what’s most important is the quality of the building work! We need scar tissue, but only good quality scar tissue! 

Prevents injury: Continuing from the point above. As the scar tissue becomes more mobile, it is increasingly able to deal with the stress and strains being placed upon it. This leads to remodelling of the scar tissue to become as close to the original fibres as we can (top quality building work!). This prevents re-injury and allows us to continue training and moving properly.

Increased mitochondria in the muscle: This is a more recent finding. Researchers in Canada discovered that deep tissue massage, after an intense workout, causes muscles to enlarge and grow new mitochondria (organellein our cells that store genetic material and enzymes responsible for muscle metabolism and the conversion of nutrients to usable energy). This is of great importance to any athlete because newmitochondria will improve endurance performance by the rate muscles can utilise oxygen.

When should you get a massage? Therapists and research suggest that a massage here and there is nice, but won’t give you the same benefits as a regular massage program.  Like exercise itself, your benefits are cumulative, meaning the more regularly you receive amassage, the more you’ll reap their advantages. 

Think of it as preventative maintenance. And used this way to address pain or to assist in recovery, massages can act as an essential weapon in your training arsenal. They also help you to relax and feel physically and psychologically better, benefits that even the non-athlete would enjoy.

If you’re an athlete looking to boost your game, consider getting a weekly or bi-weekly massage. If this isn’t in the budget or you don’t have time, we would suggest aiming for treatment twice a month.

Are you struggling with an injury or pain that has been troubling you for too long?
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