| Sports Massage has been used for centuries in the prevention and treatment of athletic injuries, and to help improve athletic performance. Sports Massage is readily used by many professional athletes, including the U.S. Olympic Team, and it’s acceptance as an effective means of sport enhancement is apparent across a wide range of professionals, at varying levels of competition.
There are many benefits to receiving sports massage on a regular basis. Sports massage can: relax muscles, improve circulation without increasing heart load; increase range of motion; help the recipient obtain a feeling of connectedness, a better awareness of their body and the way they use and position it; relieve pain and discomfort associated with muscle tension, fractures, sprains, sciatica, and stiff joints; shorten recovery time from muscular strain by flushing the tissue of lactic acid, uric acid and other metabolic wastes; stretch the ligaments and tendons, keeping them supple; stimulate the skin and nervous system while at the same time relaxing the nerves themselves, help reduce emotional and physical stress. It is often recommended as part of a regular program for stress management, and to be used in clinical settings as medical or remedial therapy.
1. Athletic/Sports Massage Defined.
Athletic massage, also called sports massage, is the application of massage techniques that combine sound anatomical and physiological knowledge, an understanding of strength training and conditioning, and specific massage skills to enhance athletic performance. Athletic massage is a method of massage designed to prepare an athlete for an upcoming event. It is achieved through specialized manipulations that stimulate circulation of the blood and lymph.
2. The Purpose of Athletic Massage Explained.
In addition to a thorough understanding of human anatomy and physiology, the therapist must know the functions of the circulatory, skeletal, muscular, and nervous systems of the body. Athletic or Sports massage refers to a method of massage especially designed to prepare an athlete for an upcoming event and to aid in the body’s regenerative and restorative capacities following a rigorous workout or competition. This is achieved through specialized manipulations that stimulate circulation of the blood and lymph. Some sports massage movements are designed to break down lesions and adhesions or reduce fatigue. Sports massage generally follows the Swedish system of massage, with variations of movements applied according to the judgment of the practitioner and the results he or she wants to achieve. Sports teams, especially those in professional baseball, football, basketball, hockey, ice skating and swimming, often retain a professionally trained massage practitioner. Athletes, dancers and others who must keep muscles strong and supple are often instructed in automassage (how to massage one’s own muscles) and in basic massage on a partner.
Athletic massage is not limited to only the most highly competitive athlete. The very same techniques can be beneficial to any active individual for assessing and working on soft tissue conditions. Athletic massage can improve the ability to perform while reducing the incidence of lost time due to injury and fatigue. Regular athletic massage may extend the athlete’s career by identifying and eliminating conditions in the soft tissue that are at potential risk of injury.
3. The Causes of Muscle Fatigue.
A universally accepted principle of exercise is that for a training adaptation to occur, a physiological system must be exercised at a level beyond that to which it is presently accustomed. This overload forces the physiological systems to adapt to the applied stresses. The overload principle in conditioning refers to the necessity of applying stresses to the body greater than it is accustomed to in order to increase strength or endurance. Exercise frequency, duration and intensity are the variables most often manipulated to provide overload to the systems of the body.
When an individual pushes to improve muscle strength and endurance there are a few negative effects the athlete will experience.
The negative effects of exercise include:
• Increased metabolic waste build-up in the tissues
• Strains in the muscle or connective tissue. These may range from microscopic microtrauma to major injury.
• Inflammation and associated fibrosis
• Spasms and pain that restrict movement.
Dehydration, overheating, depletion of muscle fuels, low blood glucose, central fatigue, overuse or inadequate warm-up or stretching may result in muscle exhaustion. All of the aforementioned can result from overtraining. Overtraining can be defined as excessive frequency, volume, or intensity of training, resulting in fatigue. Overtraining or any other detrimental affect may be relieved or avoided with proper rest and recovery.
These negative effects of exercise normally take an athlete forty-eight to seventy-two hours to rest, adapt, and recuperate. When applied correctly, athletic massage can reduce the recuperation time by as much as 50 percent.
4. The Major Benefits of Athletic Massage.
The goal of athletic massage is to enhance the athlete’s performance. Athletic massage has many benefits for every aspect of an athletes training regimen. Restrictions from pain, spasms, and tension inhibit freedom of movement. Without freedom of movement, precision is adversely affected. Athletic massage reduces many of the restrictions and also helps to:
• Prevent muscle and tendon injuries.
• Reduces the strain and discomfort of training and chronic strain patterns, allowing a quicker return to maximum training levels.
• Enables the athlete to recover more quickly from myofascial injury with less chance of chronic problems returning.
• Provides psychological boosts to the athlete, consistent with his or her commitment to high performance.
• Enhances a preventive approach to athletic training whereby soft tissues are free of trigger points and adhesions, thus contributing toward the improvement of peak neuromuscular functioning.
• Pre-event massage stimulates circulation, calms nervous tension, and prepares the athlete for optimal performance while reducing the chances of injury.
• Post-event massage relieves soreness and assists in the removal of lactic acid and other waste products
• Training massage focuses on the prevention of developing chronic injuries and aids in the healing process of current chronic injuries.
5. Contraindications for Athletic Massage.
Athletic massage is contraindicated at the site of fresh acute muscle injuries. Any heart condition, anemia, diabetes, thyroid disorders, liver and lung conditions, cancer, skin disease, varicose veins, hypertension, internal injuries, wounds, or like conditions are basic contraindications for any type of massage.
Any type of massage is not recommended for anyone who is experiencing fever, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, jaundice, varicose veins, bleeding, acute phlebitis, or thrombosis. In the case of high blood pressure or heart problems, avoid massage to the abdomen. Anyone with fractures or bruises should not receive massage on areas of injury. Pregnant women should check with their doctors first.
Athletic massage is contraindicated in any abnormal condition, injury, illness, or disease except as advised by the athlete’s physician.
6. Location of Major Stress Points on The Body.
Muscles often contain alarm points or stress points. Stress points are areas of chronic stress or the site of microtrauma that are generally located at the ends of muscles or in taut bands of muscle tissue. Points located in taut bands are trigger points. Stress points are often located at the musculo-tendinous junction. Due to the low ratio blood vessels to tissue, fatigue often occurs first at these two points. When a muscle is headed for injury, the first indication is often apparent here.
7. The Importance of Warm-Up Exercises and Massage and The Relation to An Athletes Performance.
Warming up or stretching before exercise prepares the mind, heart, muscles and joints for the upcoming event. Warming up lowers blood pressure, improves blood flow to the heart, increases muscle temperature and makes muscles more pliable.
Massage in general is defined as the systematic manual or mechanical manipulations of the soft tissues of the body by such movements as rubbing, kneading, pressing, rolling, slapping, and tapping, for therapeutic purposes such as promoting circulation of the blood and lymph, relaxation of muscles, relief from pain, restoration of metabolic balance, and other benefits both physical and mental.
8. The Relationship of Certain Athletic or Sports Activities to Possible Injuries.
The best way to treat an athletic injury is to prevent it. Proper massage therapy improves circulation, enabling damaged tissue to be carried away while making rebuilding nutrients available so that healing time is reduced.
Massage is contraindicated at the site of fresh acute muscle injuries. Massage for new or fresh injuries should only be given by properly trained therapists in conjunction with a physician’s approval. Rehabilitative massage can be given at the rate of once or twice a day during the time the athlete is out of training and every other day or every third day until he or she is back to a full training schedule.
• Shortens the time it takes for an injury to heal
• Maintains or increases range of motion
• Helps to reduce swelling and edema
• Eliminates splinting in associated muscle tissue
• Helps to form strong, pliable scar tissue
• Locates and deactivates trigger points that form as a result of the trauma
• Helps get the athlete back into training sooner with less chance of reinjury
RICE is an acronym for rest, ice, compression and elevation. This represents proper first aid for soft tissue injuries. Acute injuries have a sudden and definite onset and are usually of relatively short duration. Chronic injuries have a gradual onset, tend to last for a long time, or reoccur often. Strains involve tearing of muscle tissue or tendons. Sprains involve ligaments.
9. Four Basic Applications of Athletic Massage and the Goals of each.
The four basic applications for athletic massage are massage previous to an event, massage after an event, massage during training, and massage during injury rehabilitation.
The goal of pre-event massage is to increase circulation and flexibility in the areas of the body about to be used. The goal of post-event massage is to increase circulation to clear out metabolic wastes, reduce muscle tension and spasm, and quiet the nervous system. The goal of massage during training is to allow the athlete to train at a higher level of intensity, more consistently, with less chance of injury, and to maintain muscles in the best possible state of nutrition, flexibility, and vitality. The goal of massage during rehabilitation is to get the athlete back into full performance a soon as possible with less chance of reinjury.
Massage is considered to be most beneficial to the athlete as a regular part of his or her scheduled training. The therapist must be sure to apply proper techniques in order to avoid aggravating a condition or causing permanent damage to the area.
10. Massage Techniques Commonly used in athletic Massage.
Techniques commonly used in sports massage include those of Swedish massage plus compression, cross-fiber friction, deep pressure, and active joint movements.
The primary goal of compression is to create hyperemia in the muscle tissue. In athletic massage, hyperemia refers to the increases amount of blood and other fluids in and moving through the muscle tissue. Compression is applied with the palm of the hand in a rhythmic pumping action to the belly of the muscle.
Transverse or cross-fiber friction massage was popularized by the British osteopath Dr. James Cyriax. Cross fiber friction is applied by rubbing across the fibers of the tendon, muscle, or ligament at a 90 degree angle to the fibers. The use of transverse friction effectively reduces fibrosis and encourages the formation of strong, pliable scar tissue at the site of healing injuries. Cross-fiber friction is effective at reducing the crystalline roughness that forms between tendons and their sheaths that sometimes result in painful tendonitis. The objective of using cross-fiber friction in athletic massage is to reduce fibrosis, encourage the formation of strong, pliable scar tissue at the site of healing injuries, and prevent or soften adhesions in fibrous tissue.
In athletic massage, deep pressure is used to relieve stress points and deactivate trigger points. Deep pressure does not mean painful techniques. The athlete must understand that a certain amount of discomfort may occur and be willing to work with the therapists through deep breathing and relaxation techniques. Deep and intense massage is like an intense workout and should be done when training is light or during the athlete’s off days.
Active joint movements or more commonly referred to today as Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation system of therapy. It is better known by the acronym PNF. PNF stretching is based on reciprocal inhibition and post-isometric relaxation. PNF has been utilized in one form or another by many health care providers and athletic trainers. It is utilized in most instances to enhance range of motion for improved athletic performance or in a rehabilitation setting to restore range of motion that has been decreased due to injury.
Another form of active joint movements that is a modification of PNF is called Muscle Energy Technique or MET. MET helps to counteract muscle spasm, improve flexibility, and restore muscle strength. PNF stretching or MET is performed by moving the affected body part to the point of discomfort and then backing out to the point where no discomfort is experienced. The therapist then holds that position while the client contracts the muscles for about 5 to 30 seconds and then relaxes. This is repeated until the client experiences improved flexibility and articulation.
11. Identify the presence of soft tissue injury.
To be an effective athletic (sports) massage therapist, a person should have a thorough understanding of anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, biomechanics, and massage technique. While each area of study is important, kinesiology, which is the study of body movement, helps the therapist in particular to recognize which muscles and muscle groups the athlete is using in a particular sport. The other area of study that is of particular importance to sports therapists is biomechanics. Biomechanics is the study of biological systems and the forces, pressures and movement patterns that occur during different activities. The study of biomechanics dates back to Leonardo DaVinci, Galileo and many other scientists. All these scientists had a primary interest in the application of mechanics to biological problems. This knowledge of kinesiology and biomechanics is especially important when pain is present in order to diagnose and treat injuries correctly.
It is the nature of athletes to push the limit and beyond in order to excel at their particular sport. Constant stress and strain combined with constant fatigue can lead to microtrauma or more serious injury. When working with clients or when teaching my martial arts students I have always cautioned that, “A person’s greatest strength when overextended can become that person’s greatest weakness.” Quite simply, know your limits and the risks involved when exceeding those limits.
Most athletic injuries result from trauma, a fall or contact, or simply the result of excessive and/or repeated stress to a particular area. Strains involve the tearing of muscle tissue or tendons. Sprains involve ligaments. Grade I, Grade II and Grade II is how the severity of strains or sprains is graded. Grade I is mild pain. Grade II is moderate to severe pain with some tearing of the fibrous tissue and reduced range of motion. Grade III is the most serious with immediate pain, extensive swelling with no range of motion present.
Massage on acute injuries is contraindicated; however prompt first aid greatly reduces the extent of injury and recovery time. As noted earlier, RICE is the acronym for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Frequent applications of RICE for the first twenty-four to forty-eight hours will reduce the pain, swelling, and spasm significantly.
After a period of 48 to 72 hours, when the swelling and inflammation have subsided and the injury has entered the subacute stage, massage treatments are begun to stimulate circulation to and away from the area and to begin to mobilize the tissue so that as the tissue regenerates, scar tissue forms that is strong, pliable, and flexible. Pain is the indicator to the athlete and therapist as to the intensity of the techniques.
Massage during training, also called restorative massage, is the most beneficial form of sports massage for an athlete. As an exercise enthusiast and amateur athlete, I can attribute much of my performance and physical health to restorative and preventative massage therapy. Massage during training increases blood and lymph circulation thereby allowing more efficient oxygen and nutrient transportation to the cells that need it most as well as more efficient removal of toxic waste from the very same cells.
Another benefit of restorative massage is the breaking down of transverse adhesions that may have resulted from previous injuries. This promotes better power, better circulation, less chance of injury, increased mobility, increased flexibility and better performance. The athlete will be able to achieve maximum effort sooner and maintain it longer with fewer, if any detrimental effects.
Sports Massage, Athletic massage or any modality of massage therapy, when applied conscientiously and correctly, always has the same objective: to provide a service that enhances the client’s physical health and sense of well being. I truly hope that this sports massage review will help you in your bodywork endeavors. If you have any questions on the above, personal training or massage in general feel free to give me, Jesse Harshbarger a call at 703-981-4563 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Milady’s Theory and Practice of Therapeutic Massage, Beck’s 3rd Edition, Copyright © 1999 (Milady Publishers)
Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, By the National Strength and Conditioning Association, Thomas R. Baechle and Roger W. Earle, Editors. Published by Human Kinetics
|© 2002, 2003 NCBTMB, Virginia License & Professional Member AMTA — All Rights Reserved|
3 Reasons Why
By Jesse Harshbarger, BCHt, NLP
The very moment you make a decision, your emotional, cognitive and temporal focus instantly evaluate the risks versus the rewards of your new decision. Almost simultaneously a feedback mechanism is constructed, and henceforth automatically runs with each subsequent decision. This is why you learned something when you were two and it still holds true, even if you don’t remember why, and why you are still controlled by an event which there is no present value or current relevance to your past decision.
The decisions most affected by this sort of construction are those made in the heat of the moment; those not consciously acted upon. (Not so much for those decisions stemming from rational, knowledge-based inferences.) The decisions we make in the heat of the moment are generally those that after the fact dominate our thoughts with “Why?” and we tend to regret them later on.
Here are three different perspectives to effectively disassociate from emotions:
- Psychological: Leslie Cameron-Bandler in The Emotional Hostage, 1987, and Alfred Korzybski, Science and Sanity, 1933, state all emotions require time to manifest, to reveal their meaning to the individual. Therefore, imagining an emotion from outside of the original perspective, different from when conceived, essentially removes the emotion from the original event and its impact is lessened or completely removed.
- Metaphysical: The book, A Course of Miracles, attributes all emotion to one emotion, love. The negative emotions are subcategorized under fear and therefore an illusion (for it hasn’t happened.) Now, when the emotion is taken out of context, its deceptive qualities are revealed and when this is understood, the emotion disappears; in the same way as an illusion when it is revealed.
- Quantum physics: Taking a present perspective of a past event before it occurred is akin to a multidimensional opposite of the present. It’s like looking into the mirror of now. The once solidified boundaries of the emotion are challenged by their polar mirror opposites and subsequently canceled out and disappear.
Your past decisions have formed your current beliefs and this is what now dictates your present actions. It is important to recognize the negative and positive affects past emotions have played in your decision-making as well as how past emotions continue to be a major factor in your daily decisions.
Perhaps understanding how past emotions disappear will help you form better and healthier emotions for your future, now.
Nutrition is very important to the athlete. The source of the food is important. If the athlete ingests empty calories, void of quality carbohydrates, protein and fat, the athlete will surely pay the price through degraded or weak performance. We know that glucose is used for energy. Consistently eating quality carbohydrates is important to maintaining the levels of glycogen stores within the muscles. Carb-loading is important to anticipated prolonged activity (eating a lot of carbs 2-3 days before an event.) On the opposite side of what to do, eating a candy bar or sugar before an event isn’t necessarily a good idea and may degrade performance. Sugar needs water to be assimilated within the body. What do we need water for while being active? To perspire and cool down the body. Eating sugar before activity will tend to steal away the water from the body and causes an insulin spike. After the spike, the blood sugar is lowered and the athlete will certainly feel the side effects.
Good training will not overcome poor nutrition. Good nutrition will not overcome poor training. Therefore, do not think nutrition and training are directly correlated. The two are symbiotic per se, but not directly consequential. Training the muscles and the brain are important to technical performance, speed of completion, accuracy, and cerebral tactician (smart choices against opponents.) To an ultimate extent, what you eat doesn’t affect this. And how you eat is not enough to overcome poor training habits or schedules. The symbiotic nature of the two is such that each must be conducted correctly in order to produce the best results. Eating right will keep your innards functioning properly, which is helpful to your muscles and body. Training right will keep your body fluid and regular; just like over-training can over-task your digestive and recovery systems.
Sometimes we focus on lack… instead we should focus on abundance, or what we do have. With a focus on “having it”, owning a focus like this, you begin to see what you have and this tends to lead to attracting more. …remember the “don’t think about the blue elephant” concept? or the invisible Ape video? Where our focus is, we get more of… Now, about “it’s not how well you do it, it’s about what you do”… Much better than the opposite, when you are doing something you love, you will always be happy doing it, even when not doing it perfectly… and, a bit more, if you are doing good deeds, then you’re doing good deeds… progress is progress, better is better, more is more. Perfection is an illusion, delusion and if realized, a singular perception. Your perfection exists within the construct of allowing; begin to accept and allow, again and again. start now. or right now.
Imagine how living with fear affects your health, your heart, your blood pressure, your skin, and your hair! The greater your fear, the greater the negative consequence to your health, mentally, physically and spiritually, causing you to age faster and faster.
For longer than the past 15 years I’ve been in the service industry, providing services while sometimes being financially compensated and other times the reward was intrinsic, felt within. I think it is quite possible there have been more occasions where I have provided my services for the mere asking. My favorites are the times I have been treated to a family BBQ and engaging conversation while playing with the kids and the family dog. I recall vividly working with the many people whom I only interacted with for the brief moments of time while I was helping them. In each of these interactions I had a specific and focused intention to promote and encourage their health; physical, mental and spiritual.
One occasion I was driving as a taxi service and I received a notice for a pick up request. I accepted the request and I picked up the rider, Mateo. Mateo was enthusiastic right from the start, expressing curiosity more than other riders who engage me in conversation. He asked me what else I did for work and when I mentioned Neuro Linguistic Programming and hypnosis, a barrage of questions followed, “How does it work?”, “Who does it work on?”, “What kind of things can it work on?” and many more, one right after the other, without waiting for my response. I thought a quick demonstration would be fun and worth much more than “text book” responses, but I was unsure if we would have enough time during our short ride to the movie theater.
I asked young Mateo, “Do you have any fears? What is your greatest fear?” Right away he said, “Spiders!” I could tell that his fear was high for just his mention of spiders caused a physical response. Mateo rated his fear a 10, on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being “I’m going to die right now!” While talking with Mateo, I listened for his context, structure and his process for his fear. This revealed to me his “pattern”, the how and why he was afraid of spiders. From his responses and the speed of traffic, I decided to run a simple and effective interactive visualization technique.
Through a few quick visualizations, and a series of reframes, Mateo’s perspective of spiders began to change. His fear quickly diminished and as we sat in front of the theater, Mateo turned to me and said, “Huh… spiders are okay.” The best part was what he said last, “Jesse, you have changed my life.”
How cool was that?
Jesse Harshbarger, BCHt, NLP, MER®, LMT, CPT
Sports Therapy, Fitness & Nutrition, Success Coaching & Quit Smoking Specialist
Master Practitioner of Neuro Linguistic Programming
Master Practitioner of Mental and Emotional Release Therapy®
National Guild of Hypnotists Board Certified Hypnotherapist
Recognized and Certified through The Association for Integrative Psychology
http://www.jesseharshbarger.com or http://jesse.coach
A need is something that you meet, for survival, automatically connecting you to something. The needs are hardwired in the brain. (dynamic)
A value is something that you move towards, believe in, and gravitate towards and is important to you. Values are like an idea or belief system that causes you to believe it’s important whether you have it or not. (static)
Pain is not transmitted to the brain. Injury information is transmitted to the brain. The brain then interprets and translates the information. This means, pain is in the brain… it is a perception. Add in an emotional component and get interesting results.
Scientists have come up with great drugs for treating pain. These drugs also have a great amount of side effects caused by the fact that drugs have no targeting ability. Once in our system, drugs are everywhere in our system. It turns out that our nerve centers and receptors are extremely sensitive and particular. Small fibers of the body are responsible for most of our perception of pain. Large fibers with increased activity can actually reduce pain as demonstrated when you touch something hot (small fiber) and shake your hand or arm or maybe jump up and down (large fiber). This activation of your large fibers tends to block the messages coming from the small fibers.
Why does mixing chili pepper with the seeds in your bird feeder work at keeping away the squirrel (mammal) while the birds are unaffected?
Plants activate the nerve centers of mammals; Capsicum, cinnamon, chili pepper, Camphor, Ginkgo, St. John’s Wort, Kava, Valerian… hops as a calming and sleep promoting drug, lemon balm as a sedative, passion flower for nervous restlessness, lavender flower as a sedative and, stimulative to the nervous system are plants like coffee, tea, cocoa, guarana, Maté, Kola, TOBACCO, Areca, Lobelia, Ephedra, Khat.
Placebo effect: Also called the placebo response. A remarkable phenomenon in which a placebo — a fake treatment, an inactive substance like sugar, distilled water, or saline solution — can sometimes improve a patient’s condition simply because the person has the expectation that it will be helpful.
A patient given a placebo, told by a Doctor it will work, will most often work. Placebos work in the brain and modify chemicals psychologically. Placebos are blocked by the drug naloxone. Acupuncture is blocked by naloxone. Acupuncture does not show to work on pain in children. Does this mean acupuncture works by placebo?
*Of curious interest to the most studied scientists, Hypnosis for pain control does not correlate to placebo. Under hypnosis, the information is sent to the brain, received by the brain, processed by the brain, but pain is not perceived or pain is felt at a much smaller degree. The power of hypnosis is demonstrated by the selective block of the emotional component.
What’s your experience with pain control? What will you do now? How will you cope with pain? Hypnosis is noninvasive way to treat pain locally and systemically and used to treat chronic pain for inhibition. Living with pain is no way to live. Pain is a complex perception. You know pain is “in the brain” and now you have some new insights to help you deal with pain.