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Sports massage is a deep tissue massage specifically targeting soft tissues (muscle, tendons, and fascia) and can be used to treat soft tissue abnormalities such as increased muscle tension, trigger points, and abnormal thickening of connective tissue.
Soft tissue massage is effectively used pre and post event or training, as maintenance, and to assist in injury recovery. A knowledgeable sports massage therapist can play a key role in the training routine not only for elite athletes, but all levels of sportsperson.
Research shows that there is good data supporting the use of massage to facilitate recovery from repetitive muscular contractions, as well as being effective in alleviating DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness - that achey feeling you get after tough exercise) by approximately 30%. Additionally, an article published in the journal Psychological Bulletin on the effects of Massage therapy (MT) claims its "effects on state anxiety, trait anxiety, and depression may come about as a result of MT’s influence on body chemistry.... the ability of a course of MT treatment to provide lasting pain relief may result from the mechanical promotion of circulation and breakdown of adhesions, or from improved sleep promoted by the treatment.
As well as having an effect on how the body moves soft tissue abnormalities can also be a primary source of pain. 'Trigger points' (muscle knots) are well known to cause pain, and also may adversely effect how a muscle functions. Elimination of these trigger points can significantly reduce pain and additionally may assist rehabilitation of specific muscle. Used in conjunction with an appropriate stretching program Sports massage can be a very effective way of maintain your body through the rigors of sport
The aim of a pre-event massage is to get the body and tissues ready for the race ahead. It will help you run the race in more focused way and help to ward off injury by preparing muscles and joints for the race ahead. As the name suggests, it is best practised just before an event and the massage is performed at a fast, brisk pace - though not too deep - to get your muscles ready. Pre-event massage is sometimes available at races - get in contact with the race organiser to ask.
A sports massage after a race is a great way to soothe and ease fatigued and tired tissues and prevent DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). The pace of this massage is slow, rhythmical and gentle and it usually lasts for about 15-20 minutes. Post-event massage is often available at races - get in contact with the race organiser to ask.
This type of massage takes place in between training sessions and the aim is to work on specific elements and tissue structures which have become shortened, tight and painful. The idea is to loosen off tightness within soft tissues so as to improve performance and prevent injury. A variety of techniques can be used, ranging from deep tissue work, Trigger Point therapy, and specific stretching and strengthening. A typical sports maintenance massage can last from between 30 minutes to an hour and is a very helpful regular addition to a training propgramme, particularly if you're training for an endurance event, such as a half or full marathon.
Sports massage can also be used to treat specific soft tissue injuries and a wide variety of techniques and methods can be used to reduce the recovery time and help get you back playing sport. This type of treatment can last from between 30 minutes to an hour, dependent on the injury.
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