Having a sports massage isn’t a gimmick!

Jackie Partridge explains how Sports massage is a highly effective tool and technique to promote muscular recovery and healing post-exercise; to relieve the body of the stresses and strains of training as well as daily life. We Heart Living August 2016

Feeling tense after a workout? Here’s why you need a sports massageAs it isn’t just a gimmick. Sports massage is a highly effective tool and technique to promote muscular recovery and healing post-exercise; to relieve the body of the stresses and strains of training as well as daily life. And the benefits apply to both the long and short-term; from increased range of motion, improved posture, reducing inflammation, increasing circulation, decreasing tension and trigger points, decreasing the sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system, enhancing recovery, preventing injury and ultimately improving sporting performance. The list is endless! Jackie Partridge, a leading massage therapist at Six Physio group (Chelsea and Leadenhall) also points out that regular sports massages can help to improve sleep patterns, decrease blood pressure and relieve the tension of headaches’.

But how exactly does it work? Jackie uses the example of a wet versus a dry sponge to explain: ‘The wet sponge has more give and suppleness while the dry one is stiff.’ Sports massage results in increased muscular circulation meaning that tension spots and scar tissues are more effectively broken down and muscles are at a lower risk of injury. And now some of London’s favourite fitness studios are also catching on. Owner of boutique fitness studio in Parson’s Green, Claire Finlay, tailors fitness packages for clients, which include recovery massages after workouts in the Recovery Zone. Yoga mecca The Life Centre in Notting Hill offers sports massage among many other treatments available. Triyoga too has a sports massage treatment with particular practitioners specialising in posture analysis and correction to bring movement back to your muscles and joints and improving flexibility and body alignment. If all this makes sports massage sound like a no-brainer then you’re right. But beware. You won’t get a whale music, incense candle burning relaxation session. Sports massage can often be a sore and painful treatment. As Jackie Partridge, explains: ‘Relaxing Swedish massage uses longer, lighter, slower strokes gliding across the body. In contrast, sports and deep tissue massage have much more pressured movements with more specific techniques to address particular issues in muscles. This can include using thumbs to perform cross-fiber techniques, fists to knead the muscles, or elbows to address trigger points in specific muscles.’ Likewise the intention of sports massage, which Jackie states is to focus is on specific areas causing issue, for instance: a torn hamstring,’ is in contrast to the full body approach taken by Swedish massage to reduce stress and anxiety. So now you’re sold on sports massage, I hear you ask how long should a session last? And how frequently should I get one? In short, timing is everything.  If you have a particular issue you want addressed, make sure you let your therapist know beforehand, so they can work on this during the session. Sessions can last anywhere between 30 to 60 minutes and the frequency can range from once a month to twice a week depending on your goal. Frequency, says Jackie, is: ‘very patient dependant. For example, for preventing tension in the neck and shoulders from having a desk job, I would advise having a treatment once a week for two weeks, then tapering down the frequency to once a month. For someone training for a marathon and looking to do a personal best, twice a week for the two months leading up to the race would be hugely beneficial to their overall performance and recovery.’ Bear in mind though that sports massage does not cure injury, it simply aids recovery and healing. To come back from an injury you will need rehab physiotherapy to strengthen the muscles and build them up again. As Jackie points out, if you start on a massage therapy course you will see improvements, but in order to sustain them you have to keep going, However, ‘with regular and consistent massage treatments, you can get muscles to a point where they do not have such tension, but this needs to be maintained with regular appointments.’

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