In sport we train to progress, but lack the ability to understand how our body is a machine and to progress consistently, efficiently and without injury we should become like a ‘well oiled’ machine in order to achieve these points.
Would you consider driving your car 10,000-20,000 miles per year without getting it serviced?
Let me ask you a question… “Would you consider driving your car 10,000-20,000 miles per year without getting it serviced?”… Hopefully you answer no. If you take the same attitude towards your body in regard to the way you recover then results will come thick and fast.
You will know that sports massage is used for recovery but you may not know exactly the reasons why. Here I will briefly explain why this is so you can decide the reason you need soft tissue therapy.
If you partake regularly in a sport you may have felt the ‘DOMS’ or tired achy muscles (delayed onset muscle soreness) after a workout, long run, epic mountain cycle. This sensation is the tiny fibres inside your muscles having micro tears, inflaming and causing pain. Unlike a normal muscle tear, these will repair to adapt to your style of training, providing you with more power, strength or endurance. You can repeat this process time and time again and is the simplified rule of fitness. The more you train, the fitter you get.
The muscle is a unit of fibres that are either on or off. If you ask for engagement, your brain will fire an electronic pulse through to the individual muscle you require involvement from and turn it on, allowing you to perform the desired action. Muscles need TLC. If you don’t care for them they will get injured. All repetition injuries are preventable through sensible training and sports massage.
You will agree with me when I say, “what is the point of training for progression if you are not taking care of your recovery, right?”
This is where soft tissue therapy/sports massage comes in. The three main reasons you would get a sports massage are for injury prevention, recovery and performance.…and unlike the common misconception, a sports massage does not have to be hard to get results. If it causes pain, you don’t relax, so you don’t get the benefit from the treatment. Simple.
Therapists use the term “slide and glide” to describe what the fibres of a muscle look like when they are in use. During a contraction, the individual fibres will slide through an eccentric and concentric movement. A runners calf for example upon impact with the floor will concentrically contract as it propels them forward. After time, this muscles fibres will repair with the fibres not sliding and gliding as smoothly. The feeling the runner may get could be, less power, pain, or even symptoms such as achilles tendonitis, or shin splints. Both of these common running injuries can be prevented through massage.
Achilles tendonitis is inflammation of the tendon that attaches your calf to the heel. For most people that get achilles pain it will be because the calf is tight. General massage and manipulation through a therapist will allow all muscle fibres to be returned to normal.
Shin splints are again an overuse injury easily treated by sports massage on the tibialis anterior and gastrocnemius (calf).
To keep on the path of running, no pun intended, you will probably agree with me when I say that the majority of people you know that are runners have had some sort running related injury during training, right? How many of these runners have had regular treatments to prevent these happening? Probably not many.
Massage is simple. It increases localised circulation in the area being treated and returns the fibres to the natural smooth state. If this is the state your muscles are in each time you train, you will never have a repetition or overuse injury that are so common today.
If you want to stay injury free, follow these simple rules.
- Listen to your body. If it hurts, stop and ask yourself why? You are an expert in knowing wether you need a massage now.
- Stretch. Mobility = performance. Performance = progression.
- Regular sports massage. If you go by the rule of every 20 hours trained you have 1 hour massage on the area being worked the most you won’t go far wrong.
Stay tuned for the next blogs that will take you through sports massage for recovery and performance.