Wed | Aug 16, 2017

Sports massage: an exercise prescription that can remedy a string of problems

Published:Wednesday | May 24, 2017 | 5:00 AMRobert-Karim Besnier
Sports massage is a general term for different styles of massage fused together and used to enhance performance.
Sports massage helps us to achieve athletic success, whether you’re a professional or non-professional athlete.
Sports massage helps us to achieve athletic success, whether you’re a professional or non-professional athlete.
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Massage isn't an antidote for every likely condition that will affect your holistic health, but it's definitely an exercise prescription that can remedy a string of problems that you will encounter on the journey to achieve your wellness goals.

In this article I'm going to focus on sports massage, because it is that thing that helps us to achieve athletic success whether you're a professional or non-professional athlete.

Being an athletic coach myself, I have seen how this form of therapy has enhanced performance at first hand. In addition to this background, I have been privileged to provide this kind of therapy to children athletes, teenaged athletes, and professional athletes, including some of Jamaica's Olympians as well as active individuals who participate in marathons across the country. Regardless of what age or race you are, massage will boost your physical performance, especially sports massage in focus, when administered by a properly trained, certified and experienced massage therapist.

 

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

 

Sports massage is a general term for different styles of massage fused together and used to enhance performance. Massage oil or cream may be used as a lubricant for this treatment. It is suited for all types of exercise, dance to cycling, track and field - you name it!

Sports massage is of great value to pre-condition the body for action, relax it and heal it in times of injury. Before general exercise and athletic competition, massage should be used to supplement warm-up and stretching routine. After any athletic or physical activity, you should always take a few minutes of rest, which sometimes involve deep breathing, to restore the metabolic balance in your muscles.

However, when you are unfit or exercise too hard, the demand for oxygen exceeds the supply, producing a build-up of waste products in the muscles, which cause aching and fatigue and often take a long time to dispel. The application of sports massage helps muscles to return to their original capacity much quicker than rest, because it improves circulation and helps remove metabolic wastes. sports massage does not only treat the physical aspect, it prepares you psychologically as well.

 

PRE-EVENT MASSAGE

 

This should be done after the athlete or individual has done their dynamic stretches. Pre-event massage is a short 15-30 minutes given before an event. The goal of treatment is to increase blood circulation, promote flexibility and aid mental clarity. It does not replace warm-up but instead complements it.

It is important that the therapist knows the athlete's sports or activity and what muscles will be used the most, so that treatment can be effective and specific. Factors such as temperature, nervousness, fatigue and hyperactivity should be considered before giving a treatment. For instance, if the client is cold, the therapist may apply some warming techniques to the muscles - if they are already warmed up, focus on flexibility.

 

POST-EVENT MASSAGE

 

This type of sports massage application is usually light and varies, depending on the therapist's assessment of the client. An experienced Sports Massage therapist will know how he/she should proceed. If it's a scenario in which an athlete has another event in close succession, the post-event massage treatment should not be deep, as this will hamper their performance. It is recommended that the post-event massage be done one to two hours after an event. The goal of the session is primarily to flush the muscle tissues of the body and relieve them of the lactic acid and other by-products of metabolism.

The general intent is to cool down the body and restore balance (homeostasis). A good sports massage therapist will also address probable conditions such as muscle tension, inflammation and heat exhaustion, hypothermia, heat stroke and others that may occur from the client's physical exertion during activity.

 

CONTRAINDICATIONS TO SPORTS MASSAGE

 

1. Infectious skin disease

2. Varicose veins

3. Open wounds

4. Melanoma

5. Tumour

6. Other cancers

7. Diabetes

8. Bleeding disorders

9. Bone and joint injuries

10. Deep-vein thrombosis

Sports massage is often administered on a suited massage table but can be practised anywhere and without any equipment, if necessary. But to work professionally is always the best precedent. It is essential that consideration be given to create the right environment to achieve the best results for the client.

The most important factor effecting good results is the degree of relaxation of the client. This is not achieved by attending to physical comfort. When getting treatment, it is paramount that you feel comfortable with the therapist and confident in his or her abilities in delivering quality and effective treatment.

In my own practice, I have seen many clients with problems that have not been improved or remedied by other courses of related therapy. In many of these cases, massage has quickly and effectively resolved the problem, proving that it is an effective treatment method. However, massage does have its limitations, and to overcome these, modern science has developed new techniques, some technological with an objective to sweep massage aside. Massage works on many levels, and because of this it is a very dynamic and effective method to treat many exercise-related conditions.

The information shared is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician.

- Robert-Karim Besnier is a Spa Consultant and TVET Educator in Spa Therapy and Beauty Services; Email: yourhealth@gleanerjm.com