Sports massage is known for reducing pain and stiffness in muscles and joints. They are thought to work by realigning muscle fibres and connective tissue and flushing away toxins such as lactic acid. There are many different types of sports massage including: Swedish massage, Deep Tissue massage, Soft Tissue Release, Myofascial Release, muscle energy techniques and Trigger Point massage. All these techniques can be used in order to reduce muscle stiffness. Each type of massage is part of the therapist toolkit, and each would be used in different situations
- Swedish massage: a classic massage, which is straight forward, with no frills, but is great for general aches, pains, and stiffness in the larger muscle groups. A common area for this type of massage is the quadriceps, calves and back.
- Deep tissue massage: aimed at deeper structures within the muscles. This uses much firmer pressure; which separates a sports therapist from basic masseurs.
- Soft tissue release: a form of stretching, which is assisted by the therapist. It enables the therapist to stretch very specific areas of muscles without engaging the entire muscle group.
- Muscle energy technique: another form of stretching which uses the muscles own energy and strength in order to relax and lengthen muscles.
- Myofascial release: the fascia is a thin, tough, elastic type of connective tissue that wraps all of the structures within the body. The fascia supports and protects these structures. All types of massage work on fascia, however myofascial release claims to isolate the fascia and release tension further
- Trigger point massage: trigger point is a small area of muscle that is exquisitely painful and tender to pressure. Through trigger point treatment, pressure is put through this area, which will reproduce referred systems and then relax the tight muscle.
There are thought to be many benefits to sports massage. These included: increased joint range of movement, increased flexibility, decreased muscle tension, decreased muscle spasm, better sleep and increased circulation. Through understanding these techniques and their many benefits they can be utilised by the therapist to improve an athlete’s overall wellbeing as well as performance.