There is a common misunderstanding that sports massage is exclusively for athletes or ‘serious’ sports people. This is not the case…
Admittedly, the name is somewhat deceptive but sports massage really is for anyone. Arguably, it’s as beneficial to those with a sedentary lifestyle as it is to those regularly partaking in gruelling exercise programmes. Unlike the kind of massage you may have had at the salon or spa, a sports massage therapist uses their knowledge of the body to devise a massage that is completely tailored to your needs and requirements.
What happens during a sports massage treatment?
Treatments begin with the sports massage therapist (SMT) taking a detailed subjective history, including a medical history in order to ascertain whether sports massage is a suitable treatment for you. This is where you can explain the purpose for your visit – where and what is causing you discomfort – and discuss other factors, such as how long you have pain or whether there is an existing injury. The SMT makes detailed notes on this and may ask you to explain some elements in more detail.
Following on from the initial discussion, the SMT will look at the your posture and get you to go through a variety of range of motion tests related to the affected area(s). As the SMT needs to be able to see the musculature and posture in detail, these should ideally be performed with you wearing shorts and, for female clients, a sports bra. Obviously not everyone feels super confident about stripping off layers in front of someone else but please be aware that as SMTs, we see bodies of all shapes and sizes so there really is nothing to be embarrassed about!
The SMT may also ask you to perform functional tests to see how well you can manage day to day tasks such as reaching items from a shelf or sitting to standing. They could also use a range of other tests to gauge how certain muscles perform. At every point, the SMT will discuss why they are doing each test and will encourage you to be as descriptive as possible when it comes to any aches or physical discomfort you may be feeling.
This part of the treatment can take around 15-25 minutes, and very much depends upon the issues presented. The SMT will also use this time to palpate (touch) the affected areas in order to feel for muscular tightness, areas of discomfort etc.
It is only after this detailed consultation that the SMT will draw up a treatment plan and explain to you what this will entail. Only after this has been discussed and you are happy to proceed, will the massage treatment take place. Again, the SMT will actively encourage you to ask any questions or seek any clarification where necessary.
The treatment will usually comprise of a combination of deep tissue massage, soft tissue mobilisation, neuromuscular techniques and stretches – all of which will be explained to you during the treatment.
How does sports massage benefit me?
To return to my original statement, sports massage really is for anyone.
If you sit all day at a desk, it is highly likely that you’ve got some twinges or tightness around your upper back, shoulders or neck area. You may have lower back issues from carrying children or lifting heavy objects at work. You may have twisted your ankle a few months ago and it still doesn’t feel quite right. I see clients form all walks of life. Yes, I work with a rugby team and deal with the associated injuries of a high impact sport but generally, the majority of my clients are people who are suffering from aches and pains derived from modern living.
In a nutshell, massage can help you:
- to improve your posture and counteract repetitive actions such as sitting or lifting
- ease muscle pain
- increase the range of movement in your joints
- improve your sleep
- soothe mental anxieties and depression
- reduce stress
- take time out for yourself
- relieve headaches
- improve circulation and lymphatic drainage
- reduce tension
- increase flexibility
- improve sporting performance
Don’t be put off by the name; sports massage could be just what your body needs!
Robina is a Level 4 qualified Sports Massage Therapist. She is based in Daventry and is the resident therapist at Long Buckby Rugby Club, Northamptonshire. She is also a committed yogi and Reiki teacher.