Anyone who works out or plays sports knows how easy it is to hurt or strain a muscle. The technique of massage therapy has been shown to help reduce pain in some musculoskeletal conditions and may improve function. But can a deep tissue sports massage therapy really help?
Rehabilitation can be a tiring and frustrating process. It takes a long time and can make you feel like you’re not in control of your recovery. Physical therapy can help you with this, by increasing or restoring strength, and reducing pain. Sports massage therapy complements the benefits of physiotherapy, by targeting the biomechanics of the athlete’s sport or activities.
Sports injury massages dive deeper into the specific areas of the body that affect strength, flexibility, and range of motion for your specific needs, rather than focusing on overall muscle realignment and healing, which is addressed through physiotherapy.
A deep tissue massage therapy works to release muscle tension focusing on the deepest layers of muscle tissue, tendons and fascia, and can treat chronic pain. Pain is a warning that something is not functioning properly in our body. However the location of the immediate pain may not always be the root location of the actual injury, which can make it difficult to find long-term relief.
Sports massages are similar; however, they specifically focus on areas of the body that are overused and stressed from often aggressive movements. This technique is very beneficial in helping pre-empt injuries or in aiding recovery catered to your particular sport, like tennis elbow for tennis players or tendonitis for runners.
By utilizing techniques of trigger point massage, your massage therapist can target the areas within muscle tissues that are tight. Releasing the tension in these muscles can potentially reduce pain elsewhere in the body. A knowledgeable sports massage therapist is trained to locate the underlying causes of chronic aches and pains, and use the tools at their disposal to ease your discomfort. If necessary, they will refer you to a physiotherapist or rehab team member to provide more comprehensive care.
What Are the Benefits of a Sports Deep Tissue Massage for Injury Rehabilitation & Recovery?
Massages play an important role as a supplement to injury rehabilitation. By encouraging circulatory movement and relaxing muscles, massages help the body pump more oxygen and nutrients into muscles, connective tissues and vital organs. This allows the rehabilitating area to become more flexible, accelerate healing, and reduce stiffness.
- Circulation to improve muscle fatigue. Massages stimulate an interchange of substances between the blood and the tissue cells. This increases tissue metabolism and prevents delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Massages increase blood flow, maximize the supply of nutrients and oxygen, which then helps the body’s natural healing responses and the muscles’ threshold for muscle fatigue.
- Shorten recovery between workouts. Waste products such hydrogen ions and carbonic acid build up in muscles after intense exercise. Increased circulation to these muscles helps to eliminate toxic debris that accumulate during the catabolic process for strength training, which in turn reduces your recovery periods.
- Range of motion and flexibility. The biomechanics of how efficiently the body moves, helps to build muscle strength. Athletes tend to overtrain leading to muscle rigidity. Massage improves circulation by stretching connective tissues to help prevent or break down fibrous tissue structures, such as scar tissue, called adhesions. Massage also attributes to the excretion of certain fluids (nitrogen, phosphorous, sulfur) necessary for tissue repair.
Coupling a sports massage routine with physiotherapy can help improve outcomes and assist in your recovery. Massages can aid in pain management as the injured region is nursed back to full strength. Beyond the immediate instant gratification feeling you can get after a massage, there are also a host of beneficial long-lasting effects to help with your physical activity.
When Should Runners Get a Deep Tissue Massage?
Runners have long known that a good massage can boost their recovery after a tough race or a hard workout. With alternating strokes and different levels of pressure, massages can stimulate and assist the circulatory system, aiding recovery.
The physical pressure of the massage facilitates the influx of oxygen-rich blood and nutrient uptake to the whole body, essentially boosting the immune system and facilitating the removal of metabolic toxin by-products. This is especially important during rehabilitation, providing the tissue with the optimum environment to heal. In short, better flow equates to a faster recovery.
Deep tissue sports massages can also help us move better by easing adhesions and releasing tension within the body. Stretching and hydrating the soft tissues creates space between the joints and ligaments, relieving tightness and improving flexibility. Massages can also restore proprioception, a mechanism of biomechanics that helps us use the right muscle movements to prevent overuse and overload injuries, like runner’s knee or IT band syndrome. More flexibility in key parts of the body can lead to better movement, usually connected to reduced risk of injury.
If you are hoping for your sports massage to help with your performance at an important race or event, you have to time your sports massage correctly for maximum benefits. Deep tissue work releases waste products at the cellular level — and may even leave you slightly sore — it’s advisable to get a sports massage at least 3 to 5 days before a race to help you feel relaxed and well-prepared.
If you do a strenuous intervals session or long run the day after a massage, you’re simply contracting your muscles, introducing more waste products, and further dehydrating muscles — which won’t boost the benefits of massage.
This is why massages after running a marathon or shortly thereafter should be avoided because of the muscle damage and inflammation that occurs in the body after distance races. It’s wise to let your body heal itself for the first one to two days before getting a deep tissue sports massage. You should schedule a massage after about three to five days once body has naturally dealt with the acute symptoms of post-marathon soreness and muscle damage.
Beyond improving performance, sports massages can also help runners avoid some of the specific injuries that accumulate in the lower body. Since so much of running consists of repetitive motion, runners are especially prone to overload or overuse injuries. Sports massages can target the specific parts of the body that are prone to injury, like the foot, ankle, or calves, to aid in recovery and reduce the chances of injury.
To maximize the benefits after getting a massage, hydration helps flush away waste products that are removed by massage. Combined with a clean diet of whole foods and light foam rolling, you’ll get the most out of your deep tissue massage sessions, and will recover more quickly – so you can train harder and race faster.
Massages can help speed the body’s recovery from musculoskeletal injuries including ankle sprains, calf strains, Achilles tendonitis, jumper’s knee, hamstring pulls or tennis elbow. Discover more about how HelloPhysio’s Sports Massage Therapy helps to stretch muscles, ligaments, and connective tissues, and improve blood flow to reduce pain, prevent injuries, and aid post-injury rehabilitation. Make an appointment today for an affordable sports massage in Singapore.