What is Sport and Remedial Massage?

Sports Massage Therapy (also known as Deep Tissue Massage) is based around the manipulation and assessment of the soft tissue in the body. This soft tissue is made of muscle fibres, tendons and ligaments. The treatments are designed and tailored to meet the specific needs of the individual client. This can mean focussing on one particular troubled area, a muscle tear for example, or giving a more general treatment for the entire legs etc.

Mike at work

The real beauty and prime use of this kind of work is its use in injury prevention, by reducing tension build up and helping to improve flexibility. Coupled to this is the early detection of any sights of potential future problems. Often the therapist will find tender "hot spots" long before the client would have known about it, thereby keeping them under control and keeping the client active and pain free.

Far too many people have to resort to taking pain killers when a "niggle" or old problem rears its head, thus allowing them to go about their daily routine. Instead of using over-the -counter drugs, Sports Massage can be used to restore muscle function, strength and flexibility, which will stop the need for pain killers and may then result in less time off work and sometimes (more importantly) less time away from the gym, tennis court, football pitch or allotment etc.

Pain is the body's way of telling you that something is not right. Listen to it!  If you were watching a great film on TV and a news flash came on telling you of some horrific accident/earthquake that had just happened, would turning the TV off solve the problem? Pain Killers are to the body what the stand-by button is to the news flash.

If you are unfortunate enough to have suffered an injury either recently or indeed in the past, there is often a chance of it coming back on a regular basis unless it is dealt with properly. Sadly taking time off to rest it for a week or so doesn't always help and the problem will twinge or niggle on and off long term. Sports Massage can prevent these problems reoccurring by firstly assessing the damage and state of the area in question then dealing with it accordingly.

Scar Tissue

Mike at work

When a muscle is torn it will bleed and, as part of the body's repair process, it will lay down a thick fibrous matt of Scar Tissue to "glue" the torn fibres together. This bond is very strong but unfortunately instead of just reattaching the two ends, it glues everything in that area together. This usually results in healthy tissue getting stuck to the damaged area and rendering it very inefficient. The knock-on effects are where the future problems occur.

The fibres that have scar tissue attached become tired and fatigued much earlier than other muscle fibres and cannot then function. The surrounding fibres that are healthy now have to do their own job and also compensate for the tired section. They become fatigued more quickly than they should and then rely on their surrounding fibres to help out and so it continues.

If scar tissue is dealt with properly, using a combination of massage techniques including deep frictions and, where needed, the correct use of Ultra-sound, the size of the area can be greatly reduced preventing a lot of the above problems arising. It's always better to treat the area in the early stages of repair but old problems can also be dealt with although they take a little longer to treat.

Adhesive Tissue

Another problem that can lead to pain and regular problems are areas of Adhesive Tissue. These are created through overuse of a particular muscle; more accurately one specific area of that muscle. As muscle fibres contract, they become shorter and slightly thicker (this is visible on a larger scale if you look at a body builder flexing his muscles).

Mike at work

When we make a muscle and its individual fibres work hard repeatedly they become shorter and a little tighter. If a small number of fibres become too tired they tighten up to prevent themselves from becoming damaged. If they tighten enough, they will drive out the fluid that allows them to move freely over one another and they then become sticky and adhere to each other. This process follows a similar pattern to the knock-on effects of scar tissue i.e. compensation from other fibres, leading to fatigue on their part, becoming sticky etc etc.

Again the Sports Massage therapist can get into the muscle (not always straight away) and identify those areas then begin to break apart the bond that has formed between fibres. With regular stretching and preventative work, they should no longer give the client trouble.

It is worth noting that Adhesions do not only occur in muscle fibres, they can attach muscle to the underside of your skin; one muscle fascia (outer shealth/covering) to another etc. These are quite uncomfortable to have treated and a sensation of sharpness or tearing can be felt. I have had some clients tell me that it feels similar to having a plaster ripped off your skin which would make sense as that is simply breaking an adhesive bond between skin and plaster as opposed to fibre and fibre.