Monday, April 14, 2008

Sports Massage Types

The purpose of your sports massage will determine what type you need. A massage can help you prepare for competition, recover from competition or rehabilitate an injury.

The sports massage therapist has many techniques available. For instance, techniques used in deep tissue and swedish massage can be combined with other techniques like neuromuscular therapy, myoskeletal alignment (postural distortions), proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF stretching) and myofascial release techniques.

There are also specific massage techniques for injuries of the ankle, hamstrings or other muscle groups.

As stated in part 1 of this article series, sports massage can help the athlete reduce stress, tension and adhesions built up in the soft tissues (muscles, skin, tendons, etc.) during intense competition and overuse.

Some of the benefits of sports massage include improved flexibility, tension release, relieving of swelling, alleviation of fatigue and prevention of injuries.

I will discuss two popular sports massage techniques in use today. As I stated earlier, the massage therapist can also use other techniques to enhance the massage process.

Swedish Massage - Its purpose is to increase circulation and oxygen flow in the blood. The massage strokes are often in the direction of the heart. This massage also releases toxins from the muscles such as lactic acid and uric acid (decreases recovery time from muscle strain).

Shiatsu - This massage technique uses finger pressure to stimulate the body's energy flow. The therapists can also use the thumbs, palms, knees, forearms, elbows and feet to provide pressure.

Some of the physical benefits of Shiatsu are stimulation of the circulatory, lymphatic and hormonal systems. The nervous system is also better regulated after a Shiatsu massage.

One tool that the massage therapist often uses is proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF stretching). This technique is effective when dealing with hamstring muscle problems.

If you are an athlete, give sports massage a try. It will give you one more competitive advantage you need to compete at a high level.

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Mark Dilworth, BA, PES
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