One of the services we offer at Morley Chiropractic Clinic is sports massage. We use it in conjunction with a range of our other services for a number of reasons. However, when people hear the words ‘sports massage’ the mental image they conjure is wide and varying. Is it calm and serene with candles and whale song, or is it a mild form of torture? In this post we’ll be explaining exactly what sports massage is, and what it entails.
But First, Lactic Acid
Before we start speaking about sports massage we need to create a basic understanding of lactic acid, as the two are intrinsically linked at times. During intense exercise our bodies use glucose for fuel. However, it needs oxygen to complete this process. During intense exercise there may not be enough oxygen to facilitate this process and so the body creates a substance called lactate. Once you’ve stopped exercising this lactate is broken down into carbon dioxide and water. However, during very intense exercise more lactate can be produced than the body can deal with. This leads to a build up of lactic acid in muscles, which is what creates muscle ‘knots’.
What Does a Sports Massage Do?
At its most basic, sports massage helps break down these muscle knots, which we now know are a build up of lactic acid. One of the reasons sports massage can be uncomfortable is that this build up of lactic acids clumps muscle strands together, which in turn stops them moving and gliding properly. Some discomfort can be caused when these strands are manipulated.
This lack of proper function and loss of range of motion can lead to a number of other related issues in the body. This is why sports massage can be used to treat a wide range of ailments and achieve a range of goals.
What Can Sports Massage Help With?
- Sports performance – by getting a regular sports massage you can simply prevent large clumps of lactic acid building up, which will enable a sports person to constantly be on top form and train to the best of their ability with no hindrance.
- Injury prevention – as mentioned briefly above, if knots and other such issues are not dealt with they can lead to improper movement and compensation elsewhere in the body. Sports massage can help bring a person or athlete back to their natural movement patterns before they reach this point, therefore reducing the chance of injury.
- Injury recovery – regaining normal movement is a key part of injury recovery. Sports massage can break down lactic acid as we know, but it can also help strengthen weak muscles and correct mobility imbalances, all of which should be part of a comprehensive recovery regimen.
How Often Should I get a Sports Massage?
This is a difficult question for a provider of sports massage to answer. For those who are competitive athletes or train regularly and like to push themselves then ideally we suggest getting one weekly. If an athlete is training hard then lactic acid will always be building. Combined with the general knocks and bangs that an athlete suffers when training regularly means that there will be a regular need for massage.
However, we know that there are time and financial constraints to the above. As well, it may be overkill for the general sports person, or person concerned for their health. In that case monthly massages can be enough to keep most people ticking over.
What to Expect From A Sports Massage
Don’t worry, the two examples at the top of the article aren’t the reality. And when most people ask this question they are really asking ‘will it hurt?’ the answer to this is: it depends. There are a multitude of factors that contribute to how much pain or discomfort will be felt during a sports massage, such as:
- How long since the previous massage?
- Does the patient do any independent recovery work?
- The body part being worked on.
- The severity of the issue.
- The demographics of the patient.
- The practitioner and their methods.
However, regardless of the above. There should be no lasting pain after the massage has finished. If there is, or if there is excessive bruising (mild bruising is relatively normal), then it may mean that the massage wasn’t carried out properly, or the practitioner stumbled across a larger issue that needs to be dealt with.
Morley Chiropractic Clinic, based just outside of Leeds, provide a range of complimentary treatments, including sports massage. To find out more about any of our treatments, or for more information about sports massage in general, just call us on 0113 238 3693 or contact us here.