What is Sports Massage?
Sports massage is a specialised form of massage involving the manipulation of soft tissue in order to benefit individuals who engage in regular physical activity.
Soft tissue is the connective tissue that has not hardened to form bone or cartilage; it includes the skin, muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia (a form of connective tissue that lines and surrounds other soft tissue).
Unlike deep tissue massage, sports massage mostly focuses on stretches, improving the range of motion.
It is designed to correct problems and imbalances in soft tissue that are caused by strenuous and repetitive physical activity or trauma.
Sports massage in 4elements-massage can be used to enhance pre-event preparation and reduce recovery time for maximum performance during training as well as the actual event.
Professional athletes have long known that consistent sports massage promotes flexibility, improves endurance, and helps prevent injuries.
What to Expect
Sports massage in 4elements-massage begins with your Therapist asking a bit about the types of activities you engage in.
They will then focus accordingly on the areas of the body most affected by your routine.
So if you're a runner, you can expect the therapist to focus on your hamstrings and if you're big into lifting heavy, your therapist will focus more on your back and shoulders.
The variety of techniques used can range from stretching and manipulating muscle fibres, to getting deep into muscles using intense point centred pressure.
Due to the targeted nature of this treatment, you will likely not receive a full-body massage, so for body-wide aches and muscle knots, you may prefer opting in for a deep tissue massage instead.
But you get the extra bonus with a sports massage because as we said before, it also incorporates stretching and an active range of motion, so it resembles exercise more accurately.
It will probably be uncomfortable, quite possibly painful but most importantly, it will work.
Be aware that when the massage starts - that's when things start to get interesting!
Our therapists are trained to find your pain threshold and work just below it whilst advising on your breathing techniques to manage any discomfort.
Sports massage predominantly utilises myofascial release techniques to stretch the fascia.
Poor posture and physical trauma can cause the fascia to become hard and lose elasticity, resulting in a decrease in flexibility.
Manipulating and stretching it during the sports massage will relax the fascia and surrounding tissue helping you regain your flexibility and range motion.
Other advanced techniques that are used include:
Trigger Point Work - Trigger points are a natural part of the muscle and can cause pain on contact without explanation. By using cycles of isolated pressure and release it is possible to get rid of those points.
Muscle Energy - This technique often uses an active contraction of the muscle against a source of resistance and is mainly used to stretch, strengthen and relax tight postural muscles.
Soft Tissue release - Designed to stretch localised areas of tendons, fascia and muscles that are tight. Muscle tissue and direction of its fibres will be identified, then the either active, passive or weight-bearing technique will be applied.
This list, however, is not exhaustive and other techniques that work synergistically with the nervous system may also be used.
Your body will undergo some trauma during the sports massage session, and it's likely that you will feel cold, thirsty or tired as your body works to metabolize the lactic acid and waste products removed from the soft tissue.
Drinking plenty of water and taking a warm bath will aid this process.
You may also feel a bit sore for a few days after.
It usually takes 24-48 hours to feel the full effect of a sports massage after which you should feel comfortable, rejuvenated and refreshed.