Sports massage: What is it and what are its benefits?

Sports and remedial massage is a deep tissue massage technique and has many potential benefits.

Its primary aim is to restore full functionality to muscles and other soft tissues. This can simply mean easing the tension that has built up in your shoulders over long hours in the office or restoring maximum performance to an overtrained muscle-group of an athlete.

Sports massage is a very varied and sophisticated treatment that can help treat soft tissue injuries, maintain a healthy body and prevent injury.

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As the client, you can always tell the therapist if a manipulation causes you too much discomfort. The purpose of a sports massage is to restore the full potential of your muscular system, to help relieve problems and to prevent injury.p>

It also temporarily improves circulation and lymphatic flow, which brings more general health benefits. Some of its techniques involve slightly uncomfortable pressure on muscle tissue.

Sports massage has a calming effect, but it is not primarily a relaxing massage. You will find, however, that its effects can often be more lasting than with other types of massage.

I don't do sports...

Sports massage is of benefit to anybody, not just people who are particularly active.

ISRM-qualified sports massage therapists will have acquired a detailed knowledge of how muscles function and how problems arise. With this knowledge we can treat muscle problems of all kinds, not just those of sports professionals and professional dancers.

In fact, at least a quarter of our clients don't do sports.

Pregnancy massage

Two of our three therapists offer pregnancy massage: Shannel Hutchinson trained at the LSSM and has treated a number of pregnant clients. Our clinic director, Wolfgang Mittelmaier has been treating pregnant women from the first year of his massage career, which now spans 16 years.

The clinic's hydraulic couch is used with extra towels to make the client comfortable, but a lot of work especially in the third trimester is done side-lying and sitting up.

Pregnancy puts extra demands on the body and it can be difficult to find experienced and well-trained therapists who know how to apply firm but safe pressure to relieve some of the extra tension that easily builds up during pregnancy.

A good massage makes a big difference to women who have to deal with every day life and the extra effort of pregnancy.

What conditions do we get to see at the clinic?

Sports and Remedial Massage or Deep Tissue Massage is a deep treatment that loosens up tight muscles, breaks up adhesions in muscle fibres, and generally focuses on restoring and/or maintaining the full functionality of your muscles. It can help your muscles perform better and prevent injury. Muscle injuries will often heal more effectively with the help of sports massage.

A lot of our clients come with issues that do not stem from sports activities. Specifically, long hours at the desk can lead to all kinds of muscular-skeletal issues. Massage often is extremely helpful in relieving the discomfort that comes with such issues. Often, we will also be able to suggest simple exercises that are likely to help.

We are faced with a multitude of conditions every day, and while it depends on circumstances how much you will benefit from a massage with your condition and there can never be guarantees of improvement, here is a list of some of the things we get to see:

  • hip pain
  • knee pain
  • shoulder pain
  • frozen shoulder
  • back pain
  • sciatic pain
  • wrist pain
  • tennis elbow
  • runner's knee
  • piriformis syndrome
  • stress-related headaches
  • general joint pain
  • tendonitis
  • stiff neck and shoulders
  • it-band syndrome or it-band related issues
  • weak knees
  • ankle problems
  • shin splints
  • psoas tightness
  • tight quads
  • hamstring injuries or tightness
  • tight or painful calves
  • tight or painful glutes
  • pregnancy related back pain
  • pregnancy related neck/shoulder pain

Can massage be harmful?

Massage is a non-invasive therapy. It generally is very safe, but there are a number of contraindications which are named in the following list. Please feel free to contact me if you want to know more about any particular aspect of this topic. If you are in doubt whether any condition of yours might be aggravated by sports massage, you should consult your GP.

Known common contradindications are: open wounds (but massage can be used on unaffected areas), varicose veins, deep-vein thrombosis, bone and joint injuries (massage will help restoring muscular function after the healing process is concluded), infectious skin diseases, cancer.

What to wear

You can wear whatever you want when you come for your massage. Usually, you will be asked to remove clothing except for underwear. Towels are used during the session to keep you comfortable.

In my clinic, we exclusively use Naqi Massage lotion, a skin-friendly emulsion that does not soil clothes.

15, 30, 45, 60 or 90 min. treatments?

As a rule of thumb, you can assume that "half of the body" can be treated in half-an-hour. Choose a 30 minute treatment for straightforward issues of either upper or lower body. Go for a full-hour treatment when your issues are more complicated or you want both upper and lower body treated. If you are not sure, 45 minutes often can be the ideal session duration for your first visit.

15 minute treatments are useful as pre- or post-performance sessions or when you simply don't have time for a half-hour-session.

90 minutes may be necessary for extensive work on several issues, but it can often be more advisable to choose several sessions rather than trying to sort everything out in one.

Taking good care of your body also means taking good care of small injuries before they turn into more serious ones. If you don't feel that anything is wrong with your muscles and you feel generally fit and healthy, a regular massage session of 1 hour every 3-4 weeks will help you stay that way.