Message from Bernadette White of ‘Sports Massage Ireland‘.
“Whether you’re a seasoned athlete, accomplished in marathons or ironman competitions, or simply happy to complete a 10k run, you’ll have at this stage realised how amazing the body is & what it can achieve. You’ll also be aware of the strain the body can endure & the performance it can achieve once the mind is focussed.
But every now & again it can struggle, and can inform you of its struggle through pain. It might simply be muscle ache & stiffness or more painful like reduce range of motion or an inability to continue training. And quiet often, this pain can come out of the blue.
It’s at these times that a sports massage therapist can help out & get you back on the bike or into your trainers. Sports massage is a specialised field of massage therapy that focuses primarily on assisting you through your training program, preventing injury, & finally aiding the healing process when injury occurs.
Assisting someone through training & injury prevention go hand-in-hand. The session focuses on potential trouble spots, flushing out the by-products of activity & breaking up adhesions that form. This enables blood flow, bringing the much needed oxygen-rich blood to microscopic injury sites which also occur during exercise/activity. And the overall effect is relaxing spasmed muscles, speeding up the healing process & decreasing the recovery time after training sessions. And when the muscle tissue is healthy, it will convert fuel into energy more efficiently, hence improving your performance.
Another important, less scientific aspect to sports massage therapists is information you can gather from them. In my experience, I’ve met a healthy cross-section of athletes who have educated me on the pit-falls of training, nutritional values, over-stretching, etc. I’ve about 500 personal experiences in my head. And experience is everything in my book. I can act sometimes as an excellent reference library.
If you do find you’re injured, (in conjunction with, or after a doctors treatment), sports massage can reduce the time off your feet by flushing the injury site & applying stretches that help re-align fibres freeing up the soft tissue so there isn’t a repeat injury.
And finally, a question I’m asked regularly is how often should you use sports massage? The answer is as often as you can. But as most of us aren’t professional athletes, once or twice a week just isn’t practical, so I advise whenever you feel pain, or if you feel the muscles tired and heavy. Also, if you’re upping your pace, e.g., beginning the long runs of your marathon program. Or maybe you’ve an old injury that rears its head every now & again. The nice thing about sports massage is you are an active participant in your therapy & if you listen to your body, it will tell you (not your therapist) when you need a session.
Some guidelines on injury prevention
Listen to your body: work with your body, don’t fight with it
Warm up properly before you exercise: warm up stretching is not to elongate the muscles but to bring blood and fluid to them.
Practise proper technique: wear proper gear for your sport
Train throughout the day, not just during your work out: i.e. use the stairs as opposed to the lift
Eat and drink properly [and enough] for your sport: try lots of different energy drinks & foods during your training so you know exactly what suits you.
Rest and sleep in the name of muscle repair: deep repair takes place during sleep. Make sure you’re getting enough
Give an injury time to heal: taking time off to heal is sometimes necessary
Don’t use painkillers to mask pain: pain is a warning sign that something is wrong. Don’t ignore it!
Respect your limitations: understand and recognize your own capabilities
Work regularly with a health care practitioner who understands the musculature: a good sports massage therapist will help you understand your own body & how it moves & where its weaknesses are
Remember to try find the balance. Balance between preparing physically & mentally and balance between activity and rest. A great frame of body & a great frame of mind”
Bernadette White NMT