A sports massage in London has many benefits, as athletes around the world will testify. Indeed, the benefits of massage are such that many professional teams in sports such as football, basketball, baseball, and so on, will keep a massage therapist on their payroll. With that said, there are not a lot of articles or research that have been published on sports massage therapy, and some of what there is has reached conclusions that are mixed as regards the physical benefits of a specific massage.
Unfortunately, some articles have reached a conclusion that it is difficult to justify sports massage as effective for improving athletic performance, yet these articles seem to lack critical elements to effectively determine the benefits of sports massage, and at the same time completely ignore other benefits such as improved psychological effect, a greater ability to focus on a task, and the prevention of injury.
At the same time there is another side to the coin that is completely overlooked, and that is the skills or otherwise of the therapist. The therapist's experience and techniques are critical to the assessment of results. There are also differences in technique between a massage therapist, other physical therapists, foam rollers, and so on.
Sports massage uses a number of different techniques with the aim of achieving the desired effect in the soft tissues of the athlete. These are usually, but not entirely, based upon Swedish massage and include varying combinations of effleurage, friction, petrissage, tapotement, and vibrational massage. More specialised techniques such as compressive strokes, jostling strokes, and broad circular friction may also be included. Such treatments will vary in speed and depth of massage, depending on whether the massage is before or after an event. Massage just before an event is generally lighter than after an event or massage used to deal with an injury sustained. Other techniques which may be used, but not so commonly, are hydrotherapy, acupressure, and ice massage.
The various types of massage that may be used include effleurage which is stroking using the hand and following the contours of the body and can vary in depth and pressure. This can be because the therapist will get to know an athlete over a period of time and will understand which of his muscle groups need more attention than others, which may be more likely than others to suffer injury, and of course which groups of muscles the athlete uses in his chosen sport. So the groups of muscles used in football will differ from – although may overlap – the muscles used in tennis, which will differ from those used in golf, and so on.
Effleurage is used in the direction of lymph and blood flow and may be light at the beginning of a session ion order to prepare the soft tissues for deeper massage, and the intention is to warm tissues, help with circulation, stretch muscles and fascia, relax the athlete, and help to ease sore or painful areas.
Petrissage is also known as kneading and the muscle tissue is gently kneaded or compressed and is then released. Petrissage helps with the removal of lactic acids and assists with circulation. Depending upon the rate and pressure of kneading, the strokes can have a relaxing or a stimulating effect on the muscle. Petrissage can also soften fascia, remove adhesions, and help to reduce muscle soreness.
Another technique is friction massage which is administered by the fingers or thumb, and linear or circular strokes are applied to a specific small area. The aim is to break down scar tissue, reduce adhesion, increase circulation, and may also be used to ease a trigger point.
Tapotement is repetitive light striking of the skin with the hands in a cupped position. It is often used prior to a sporting event in order to energise the muscle tissue. Vibration is another technique that is used prior to an event and results in a shaking of the body region being addressed. Its' purpose is to increase circulation and to relax muscle tissues.
Those are the chief techniques that are used in sports massage, although individual therapists may also include others.