When athletes suffer an injury, massage is excellent for speeding up rehabilitation and the healing process. Whether to treat sprains, muscle tears, broken bones, or strained joints, massage is a beneficial form of therapy. It can also help to prevent further injuries.
Sports physiotherapists often recommend regular massage sessions. Even if an athlete has not suffered an injury, massage therapy is beneficial, particularly deep tissue massages. Thanks to their ability to release fluid build-up from the muscles and relax tensions, deep tissue massages are an effective form of post-match treatment. The results may not be apparent immediately, but within 24 hours, most athletes report a significant improvement.
What types of massage therapy can treat injuries?
There isn’t just one form of massage therapy; in fact, there are hundreds of types of massage that can treat injuries. Massage therapists often combine different types of massage techniques to provide the most effective treatment. Some of the most popular include Swedish massage, sports massage, deep tissue massage and trigger point massage. Let’s take a closer look at the most popular types of post-injury massage.
• Swedish massage Think of post-injury massage, and it is probably Swedish massage that comes to mind. Therapists using Swedish massage apply pressure to the muscles using long, gentle strokes, always taking the direction of the blood flow towards the heart. This therapy increases oxygen levels in the blood and reduces toxins in the muscles. Swedish massage improves flexibility, aids circulation, and relaxes the whole body.
• Deep tissue massage
Deep tissue massage is a similar form of treatment to Swedish massage but is more vigorous massage therapy. More substantial pressure works on the deepest layers of tendons and muscles for optimal relaxation.
• Trigger point massage therapy
Trigger point massage therapy uses a series of manoeuvres to apply and release pressure in areas of muscle tissue that are too tight and are thus causing pain on other parts of the body. For example, tight muscles in the thighs can cause pain in the knees. This releases tension that can cause pain. Trigger point massage requires the person who is being massaged to play an active part with deep, regular breathing and noting the areas where their body hurts.
• Sports massage
As the name suggests, sports massage is specially designed for athletes to help them recover from injuries and improve their performance. The specific techniques will vary according to the athlete’s sport or discipline. In general, sports massage focusses on the muscles and joints that players of an individual sport tend to overuse.
Massage also plays a crucial role in many post-injury treatment plans. Here, we take a closer look at how massage can help athletes recover their form.
Five benefits of post-injury massage
As well as the overall beneficial effects of massage therapy, post-injury massage offers five key advantages that can help athletes to recover more quickly.
• Improved muscle nutrition
After an injury, massage therapy improves blood circulation and overall muscle nutrition. A massage session enhances the interchange of fluids and substances between blood and muscle cell tissue. This process accelerates cell metabolism, increases blood circulation and maximises oxygen and nutrients in the muscle, all essential for the body to recover from injuries such as strains and torn muscles.
• Better flexibility of the muscles
The higher the range of motion and the more supple their muscles, the better power and performance an athlete will have. Workouts are safer, and they can train more intensively while reducing the risk of injury. It also helps to enhance the body’s ability to build muscle.
• Speedier recovery times
During exercise, waste products such as carbonic acid and lactic acid accumulate in the muscles. By increasing the flow of blood to the muscles, post-injury massage can help to remove these toxic substances and shorten the recovery period between workouts.
• Better relaxation of the muscles and avoidance of overtraining
When an athlete over trains, it reduces their body’s ability to build muscle. Post-injury massage helps the muscles to relax. It also has a soothing effect on the nervous system, which can help counteract the overtraining syndrome.
• Preventing injures in the future
Thanks to how it stretches the connective tissues and enhances the circulation, massage therapy can help to prevent adhesions that can cause future injuries. Massage also increases the excretion of substances such as sulfur, phosphorus and nitrogen, essential elements that are required for the body to repair damaged tissues.
Post-injury massage therapy
Massage therapy is a very beneficial treatment as a part of an injury recovery plan for both non-athletes and sports players. Professional massage therapists can provide a range of massage techniques that can aid healing and accelerate recovery from injuries.
Article bio: This article was written by Patrick Hanley of APC Physio and Sports Clinic. Patrick is professional trained in Sports Massage and has been helping athletes recover from injury for over two decades.