Sports Massage is the management, manipulation and rehabilitation of soft tissues of the body including muscles, tendons and ligaments. It is applicable not just to sports people but to anybody wishing to guard against or recover from a soft tissue injury.
The techniques used by sports massage practitioners have been developed to ensure effective and efficient results are gained from each massage given, including:
- Improve circulation and lymphatic flow
- Assist in the removal of metabolic waste
- Sedate or stimulate nerve endings
- Increase or decrease muscle tone
- Increase or decrease muscle length
- Remodel scar tissue when required
- Assist in mental preparation for sporting participation
The benefits above can also help relieve the many day to day problems, repetitive strain injury, sprains, tension, fatigue, that everyone experiences. Many sports massage therapistsÂ work with a great range of clients in assisting with preventive treatment and injury recovery.
Rehabilitation is the process to regain full function following injury. This involves restoring strength, flexibility, endurance and power and is achieved through various exercises. Rehabilitation is as important as treatment following an injury but unfortunately is often overlooked.
The aim of a rehabilitation program is to regain pre-injury levels in all aspects of physical fitness. A full rehabilitation and strengthening program is essential to ensure full recovery and in order to prevent re-injuries.
Rehabilitation programs should aim to restore muscle strength, endurance and power, improve flexibility, proprioception and balance as well as more sports specific or functional exercises.
There are 3 recognized stages of rehabilitation and these are:
- Early stage rehabilitation is gentle exercise allowing for the damaged tissue to heal. This stage is often rushed and will result in poor quality healing and will be prone to re-injury.
- Mid stage rehabilitation involves progressively loading the muscles/tendons/bones or ligaments to develop tensile strength producing a healed tissue that will be able to withstand the stresses and strains of everyday life and exercise.
- Late the final stage (late) of rehabilitation is where the tissue adapts and is stressed using functional exercises and drills to ensure the body is ready to return to play.
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