What is massage therapy?
Massage therapy has been around for a long long time. What makes this treatment stick around? Perhaps it is because we know anecdotally the positive effects of this treatment. We use massage therapy for a number of purposes. Recovery, flexibility/mobility and injury treatment/prevention to name a few. What does massage actually do and how?
What are the precise effects of massage therapy?
We are not 100% sure. What we think may happen is listed below. However – does this apply to me?
(Brukner & Khan)
- Promote efficient scar formation following acute trauma
- Reduce excessive adhesion and scar formation following chronic trauma
- Reduce excessive fascial thickening
- Reduce spasm secondary to pain
- Reduce pain by – Decreasing excessive tissue tension associated with activated mechanical nociceptors & the removal of chemical substances in tissue that activate chemical nociceptors
- Decrease neural excitability
“You might not be injured or be in pain”
So how does this relate to me as a crossfit athlete/runner/power lifter/body builder/sportsman?
RECOVERY / INJURY PREVENTION
Two of the most important factors contributing towards high level performance. To fully benefit from hard strength/conditioning session’s and to help prevent injuries, we MUST recover as efficiently and quickly as possible. There has been an argument brewing regarding crossfit and raising the bar for “over training” for some time now. Equally most of us have heard about overtraining and rhabdomyolysis which must be avoided. If we do not recover well enough, then impaired performance, fatigue and lethargy are likely to occur. Continuous poor recovery will most likely lead to an injury or overtraining syndrome.
Whilst it is important for this to be monitored, more often than not your coach/therapist will take this on board and do the thinking/programming for you. Therefore, you have one less thing to think about. Importantly, leaving you to focus more on RECOVERY.
Regular massage therapy can help you recovery from high bouts of intense training. A change in programme design = Volume / intensity / type of exercise will often leave you feeling sore / tight post activity. A change in tissue tone is thought to impede the rate we are able to deliver nutrients and oxygen to the cells and also negatively effect the way we expel waste products from our muscles. Areas of local tenderness will represent themselves as trigger points – these are the areas we aim to find when rolling out on our foam roller or lacrosse ball. Excessive trigger points can cause inhibition of the muscle and thus have a detrimental effect on performance. Furthermore this can then lead to biomechanical abnormalities which in my personal opinion is one of the main predisposing factors for injury as a result of poor movement patterns.
The effects of massage that is more applicable to me in a recovery setting – What we think may happen:
- Reduces excessive post exercise muscle tone
- Therefore increases muscle range
- Increase circulation & nutrition to damaged tissue
- Deactivates symptomatic trigger points
- Identifies soft tissue abnormalities
Massage therapy should be a part of your tool box for recovery. It can help to play a pivotal role in recovering and staying injury free – allowing more training time. There is no bigger annoyance for an athlete than to be out on the treatment couch.
Thanks for reading!