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Sports therapy and massage are critical for athletes to keep their muscles feeling good and training at their peak. A massage a week during the peak of training is best. Otherwise, frequency and duration of sessions depend on how often the athlete is training and what their goals are. A first time marathoner whose goal is to “just finish” needs a different frequency and focus of massage than a Triathlete whose goal is win podium in their age group. Whether it’s a weekend warrior or professional athlete, the human body has the same muscles and they work in the same way. It’s the sports massage therapists’ job to take into account muscle soreness, adhesions and injury to find which massage techniques are most beneficial for each individual athlete.
Adhesions and scar tissues sometimes form on soft tissues and affect muscle integrity and range of motion. As these unresolved, seemingly minor aches and pains continue to be stressed by exertion, more significant injuries occur. This leads to chronic pain and degeneration in the body’s soft tissues, or bones. Adhesions are unhealed tissues that often adhere or stick together. They may also become glued onto ligaments, other tissues, or bones. If adhesions are not properly treated they can become chronic and form an immobile scar that permanently reduces range of motion.
Unresolved scar tissues embedded in key postural muscles produces a myofascial drag on the body, wastes enormous energy, and often results in mediocre performance. When this happens the stage is set for frequent recurrence of injury.
Athletes come in a wide range of categories, from the weekend warrior to the professional, and as massage therapists we recommend treatment depending on each athlete’s goal, current level of training and whether there is a current injury. More often than not athletes don’t think about adding sports massage therapy to their training unless they become injured or some part of their body is hurting. There are many reasons why integrating sports massage is important before the athlete feels pain.
Active people’s muscles get sore, and this inhibits activity and performance. There are many theories regarding muscle soreness, but one of the most commonly accepted is that of microscopic tearing in connective tissues as a result of repeated demands on a particular part of the body. These repetitive stresses and contractions can lead to tearing, cellular inflammation, and pain as the muscles shorten, splint, and bind together in a protective reaction. If someone continues to work through the soreness under the “no pain, no gain” motto, they are setting themselves up for further injury and breakdown.
When injuries do happen, one of the most common cause of the physical breakdown is the “too much, too soon” syndrome. When this happens too much was asked of the body too soon. For instance, a runner who increases his training schedule from 10 to 22 miles during the period of a week will likely incur a series of overuse symptoms such as burnout, fatigue, unresolved aches and pains, and slight tearing of connective tissues. Other factors that contribute to sport related injuries include muscle imbalance, inadequate warm-up, poor flexibility, mineral deficiency, structural abnormality, lack of endurance, and reoccurrence of previous injuries.