The four myths of sports massage.
We were recently invited to talk to some of the entrants of the inaugural Westhill 10k this week on recovery strategies with our partners SPEAR Physiotherapy. We would like to reiterate how much we enjoyed the evening, especially having the opportunity to meet some new faces while listening to some fantastic presentations, in particular Laura Malady who presented on sports psychology. Shout out to RebelPT, SPEAR Physiotherapy and Fraser Clyne for helping make the evening a success.
But what did we talk about? Well, we started by trying to dispel a few myths about what "sports massage" really is. Lets summarise those in the four key myths of sports massage!
1. Are we in it to torture you as much as we can? NO. We know that "moderate" pressure is required to give us a lot of the benefits of massage therapy that are desirable for someone training for a race. This does not mean we have to burrow our elbows in to the point that tears are rolling down your face. The skill of the massage therapist is to use a range of different pressures, stretches and techniques to get the desired result in an enjoyable way.
2. Is Sports Massage only for the elite athlete? NO. I have love/hate relationship with the term sports massage. I think it puts people off. "I am just a social runner", "I am new to exercise so I can't get a sports massage". The term "sports massage" is coined from the fact that elite athletes found that this was highly beneficial in optimising their performance and preventing injuries. Well, Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis-Hill have the same two legs, two arms and back as you do. They have some number of muscles that work physiologically in the same way. They have the same nervous system and brain. Therefore, you can have as good if not better results from utilising a sports massage in your training cycle as these guys.
Please do not think that whatever level of runner / cyclist / walker, recreational or elite, that you are not welcome in our clinic or that sports massage is not for you.
3. Sports Massage is only for clients who exercise. NOT TRUE. As I mentioned above, the term sports massage in it's truest form describes the level of pressure that the therapist can use. It is this pressure that is required to elicit a change in the body. These techniques are fantastic for our clients who are chained to their desk all day, have long standing postural issues or constantly feel like they are "stiff" and inflexible. Just as a 10k runner may struggle with a tight calf muscle, an office-based client may struggle with a tight neck or lower back. Same theory, different muscle, same result!
4. This is one is for you guys. So many times we here massage therapy being unfairly judged as being all scented candles and dimmed lights. YES this type of massage exists. YES it is beneficial, particularly for stress, anxiety and relaxation. YES we are sometimes asked for this approach, YES we can provide it (see. Swedish massage). However, this is not what a sports massage is all about. It is a scientifically grounded, anatomically based massage type using moderate to deep pressure techniques to make a changes to the soft tissue of the body. Don't be put off by the spa-like image of some massage therapy imagery.