Rhian Davies, Bridgend Physiotherapist and Clinic Director of one2one Therapies in Bridgend discusses why a sports massage is suitable for far more than sport – and is also perfect for your lunch break!
Sports massage is one of the most popular treatments at one2one therapy in Bridgend – I’m often asked questions about who it is suitable for, how massage differs from physiotherapy and what the benefits are.
Massage in general has a good reputation for promoting relaxation, however people are often surprised to know that there are many different types of massage including Swedish massage, acupressure, shiatsu, indian head massage, Thai massage and so on. Each has their own styles and delivers different benefits.
Sports massage works particularly well alongside physiotherapy because the massage movements, stretches and strokes are designed to promote muscle recovery and alleviate pain. It works well alongside the other therapies and treatments we offer at our Bridgend clinic.
Sports massage is one of the more firm types of massage and qualified massage practitioners have to undergo additional specialist training to carry out sports massage techniques.
Here are some of the benefits of sports massage – for both athletes and non-athletes:
Relieving post-exercise muscle soreness
The Greeks and Romans strongly believed in the benefits of massage for the athletes of their time. Galen (AD 30-200), who was a well-known Roman physician, prescribed massage for the gladiators both before and after exercising.
Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is the painful stiffness in your muscles that you get after strenuous exercise. Without treatment, this soreness can last for several days.
Sports massage following exercise is proven to prevent and relieve this pain. It is particularly popular with professional athletes who need to repeat intense exercise frequently and therefore need to recover fast. However, there are other benefits to this treatment, too.
Improving muscle length and flexibility supporting injury recovery and injury prevention
Sports massage incorporates a series of stretches which are proven to improve muscle length and flexibility. This reduces the risk of injury during exercise.
Following an injury, the body can sometimes adopt what we call an analgesic posture – this unnatural stance may relieve short term pain, but long term can lead to further problems. Usually this adopted posture causes muscle tension and decreased muscle length which can lead to pain.
A sports massage can release tight muscles contributing to or caused by an injury, even if the injury was caused a long time ago. Sports massage can often improve recovery.
Additionally, the endorphins released during the treatment act as your body’s natural painkillers. In short, most musculoskeletal conditions benefit from sports massage.
Decreasing stress and promoting energy
Like most types of massage, one of the benefits of sports massage is that it is excellent for releasing stress. During a sports massage, the body releases neurotransmitters called endorphins.
These endorphins, released by the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus, are proven to decrease anxiety, provide pain relief, improve mood and enhance a person’s state of well-being.
However, unlike other types of massage, which can leave the recipient feeling sleepy, sports massage often leaves the recipient feeling energetic, alert and invigorated – which makes it perfect for a lunch break.
About the author:
Rhian Davies is a Chartered Physiotherapist and Clinic Director of one2one therapy in Bridgend, South Wales, which she set up in 2004. Rhian has a passion for healthcare and continues to write and share articles, making a wider contribution to the wellbeing community.