Sports Specific Deep Tissue Massage
As part of a training strategy for any sport, both stretching and massage should play an integral part. To function effectively, muscles need to retain length and the ability to contract maximally, and appropriate warm ups before exercise, and massage / stretching post exercise are an athletes best tools to ensure maximal muscle function during the activity, and recovery post activity.
Sports massages are useful before activity to ensure that muscles have been fully warmed up, and oxygenated through increased circulation. If unable to see a therapist before a competition or heavy exercise session, 10-15 minutes set aside for self massaging and active warmup to improve circulation to the muscles to boost performance and shorten recovery times.
Post exercise massages are almost essential for full recovery. During exercise muscles become stiff, with a buildup of lactic acid and other metabolic wastes. Sweat loss may deplete fluid held in the body decreasing the circulatory sytstems ability to flush muscles. Massages post exercise should focus on restoring blood flow and nutrition to cramped muscles, helping to flush wastes back into the lymphatic and venous system – one reason my massage strokes in general are performed towards the heart! This will help soften and release tension, and during muscle rebuilding, will ensure that the muscle is rebuilding a longer muscle (which increases contractile speed), rather than rebuilding a chronically shortened muscle.
Massages not only help shorten the metabolic recovery time, but also improve the structural integrity of the muscle structure. Adhesions between muscle fibre bundles can lock muscle groups together, which may not adversely muscle function during a repetitive action such as the quadriceps up/down action during cycling, but may predispose to injury once off the bike and lateral and rotational movements are introduced back into normal movement. In such a case, muscle groups locked together may not adequately act independently to stabilise the body, and lateral and rotational forces may transmit directly onto tendons and ligaments which become more prone to injury. Ensuring that muscle fibres are free of adhesions allows them to work independently, improving function, circulation and recovery, and reducing the risk of injury.
Every sport will require different massage muscle groups to be prioritised. As an example cyclists will have have post ride pain and stiffness in the calf muscles, hamstrings, quads and gluteal muscles, as well as postural stiffness in the lower back, along the spine into the neck from holding a constant position. Forearms and wrists may also suffer especially if using triathlete style bars to reduce the wind profile.
An appropriate massage for cyclists (post exercise) would spend much more time softening and loosening the muscles in these areas, rather than focusing on the usual complaints of stiff shoulders.
If you are engaging in heavy exercise or competition and need a massage post activity to enhance your recovery, talk with the therapists at Bangkok Deep Tissue Massage about tailoring your Deep Tissue Massage to your sport, and your individual requirements.