Sunday, November 20, 2016
Massage is probably one of the oldest forms of therapeutic modalities. It dates back to 2598 BC in Chinese medical books. Today, massage can be used for many different reasons. For the most part, when someone asks for a massage, they simply want a back rub or something that ‘feels good’. However, a massage can do so much more than that and it doesn’t always necessarily feel good. A massage can be “an effective treatment method for promoting local and systematic relaxation… increasing local blood flow, breaking down adhesions, and encouraging venous and lymphatic return.”1
For this particular blog, I am going to discuss how massage therapy can help an athlete prepare and recover from any physical activity. When it comes to sports massage there are several techniques used and each technique has its own type of massage stroke in order to achieve its purpose. The first technique is the myofascial technique which can “decrease fascial strain and binding along the full kinetic chain to improve… chronic injuries.”2 The stroke that is best used with this technique is called pétrissage. Pétrissage is usually performed after the athlete has used a hot pack. It is performed by lifting, kneading and rolling the skin, tissue and muscle and is able to stretch and separate the muscle fiber and fascia ultimately leading to muscle relaxation.
The second massage approach, neuromuscular/trigger point, is used to decrease tension and relieve tender points that can occur in the muscles during training. This is one of the massages that doesn’t feel good in the process but athletes can, usually, feel a noticeable difference in the affected area. Trigger point can be performed by applying pressure (with finger or elbow) to the problem area for about 15-20 seconds and then moving on to a new spot. This type of pressure along with simultaneous movement of the muscle helps the fascia to ‘unstick’ from the muscle.
The last kind of massage that I’m going to talk about is the lymphatic massage which stimulates the “body’s natural…effectiveness of edema removal during the acute and subacute stages of healing.”2 One way to achieve this outcome is to do a ‘milk massage’ for a sprained ankle that has edema. The athlete will lay on their stomach and bend their knee so that the foot is up in the air, then the trainer will ‘milk’ or gently squeeze the swelling from the athlete’s foot down to their leg.
Although it may not be the ‘feel good’ massage that everyone is used to, massage therapy can be used to achieve several outcomes that can be helpful for athletes.
1Starkey, C., & Starkey, C. (2013). Therapeutic modalities (4th ed.). Philadelphia: F.A. Davis.
2Archer, P. A. (2001). Three Clinical Sports Massage Approaches for Treating Injured Athletes. Athletic Therapy Today, 6(3), 14-20.
Raindrop Northwest seminars on raindrop technique aromatherapy and applied vitaflex. (n.d.). Retrieved November 03, 2016, from http://raindropnorthwest.com/massage.html