Sports massage is the application of manipulation and stretch methods to the muscles and connective tissues of the body to enhance athletic performance.
This is a good official definition of sports massage but I’d also add the following additional explanation:
It is a type of therapy originally developed to help athletes maximise performance by working on specific muscles and connective tissues (eg tendons, ligaments and fascia) before, during and after sporting activity. Increasingly, however, it is a popular method of treatment for a variety of conditions for non-athletes.
It helps muscles prepare for action and aids their recovery afterwards. It can also help speed recovery from injury and help alleviate long-term muscular conditions and postural problems as well as simply helping healthy muscles to stay healthy. Niggles and injuries are a fact of life for athletes (and anyone, in fact), but a timely sports massage can be all that is needed to get you back training again. Properly-qualified practitioners have an excellent knowledge of anatomy, physiology and biomechanics which allows them to adjust their techniques to achieve specific, targetted affects. If a visit to the physiotherapist or osteopath is called for, a qualified practitioner will be able to refer you.
Sports massage is based on Swedish massage techniques but also uses other methods which are probably less familiar to most people than the stroking movements of a relaxing spa-type massage. These other techniques include compression, friction, stretch and vibration and can be applied using hands, forearm, fist, knuckles, elbow, thumbs or fingers. Sports massage can be slow and relaxing or fast and invigorating, superficial or deep, and can take five minutes or longer than an hour.
- It is equally effective for non-sporty people as well as athletes of all levels
- It can be useful for all ages, from childhood up to way beyond retirement age.
Important! The relationship between sports massage, physiotherapy and other healthcare professions
A sports massage therapist is not a physiotherapist, although they may use some of the same techniques and appear to have similar aims.
Sports massage therapists are not qualified to treat new or acute injuries and they cannot diagnose. For that, you would need to see a state registered physio, osteopath, podiatrist or GP. However, a sports massage therapist can make a clinical assessment as to what the problem may or may not be and can refer you to another qualified health professional.
So if, during your initial assessment, it appears that your problem or injury is related to hard tissue (bone or cartilage) or could be neurological, I will refer you to an appropriate healthcare practitioner. I have links with some superb practitioners and you’ll be in good hands. The main thing for both of us is that you get a good outcome as soon as possible.
What some of my clients have said about my work
Lou provided excellent massage and advice as part of preparations for my first 100 mile ultramarathon. With her help I was able to train harder and more consistently than ever before and I firmly believe that our regular massage sessions prepared me so that I was able to recover so well after the event. Because Lou is an accomplished endurance athlete herself this really helps her understand her clients’ needs.
Lou’s pleasant personality exudes friendliness and warmth making you feel welcome yet with adequate professional respectfulness. As a patient one feels reassured of her care and empathy. Her conduct as a valuable and efficient therapist cannot be doubted.