Sports Massage is a natural therapy used to treat muscular aches, pains and imbalances, which helps with the healing process of the muscles, ligaments, tendons and connective tissue after injury or overuse. It also works well alongside other therapies such as Physiotherapy and Osteopathy.
- Improves circulation
- Improves Lymphatic Flow
- Breaks Down Scar Tissue
- Frees up Adhesions and Fibrous Tissue
- Increases Flexibility
- Stimulates Nerve Receptors
Good circulation is needed to carry blood-containing nutrients for the growth and repair of muscles and cells around the body and to eliminate waste products.
Improves Lymphatic Flow
Following hard exercise, injury or other medical conditions the amount of interstitial fluid increases and puts more pressure on the lymphatic system. Massage strokes greatly increases the flow of lymph that absorbs excess fluid and returns it to the venous system filtering out any toxins.
Breaks Down Scar Tissue
When tissue damage occurs, some bleeding will take place and scar tissue will develop to stop the bleeding. This is a vital part of healing but often there is too much bleeding and too much scar tissue forms. With chronic inflammation more scar tissue will continually form. Scar tissue hardens over time affecting the flexibility of the muscle, causing pain and discomfort and also referred pain can occur. Friction massage techniques after the acute phase of injury or in the chronic stage can help reduce excess scar tissue forming by breaking down the scar tissue into smaller pieces which can be digested by phagocyte cells and absorbed into the lymph vessels.
Frees up Adhesions and Fibrous Tissue
Muscle fibers need to be able to glide smoothly over one another otherwise the area will not function properly. With overuse or bad posture muscles can become fibrous and adhesions can occur that feel like a hard lump or knot. These can reduce the function of the muscles. Transverse strokes and friction techniques can help free up the fibrous tissue and get blood running through the knots to aid the natural healing process.
Massage is able to stretch specific areas of tissue that cannot be done with functional exercise.
Stimulates Nerve Receptors
Massage stimulates the nerve receptors in tissues that control the tension reflex affect causing further relaxation of tissues and a reduction of pain. Mechano-receptors that respond to touch, pressure and warmth are also stimulated.
Include Friction, Muscle Energy Technique, Neuromuscular Technique, Trigger Point Therapy, Soft Tissue Release, Deep Tissue, Positional Release, Active Isolated Stretching.
Conditions we treat
Lower back pain
Lower back pain can be caused by an accident or direct trauma such as a car crash or falling off a horse where the spine is forced beyond it's range of movement or compressed. It can also be a gradual onset caused by repeated movement patterns, prolonged postures, one-sided actions, overloading of the spine or overuse. What you do for a job, the habits or hobbies you have, the sport or training you do on a regular basis can all contribute to lower back pain. If you are a labourer and have to lift heavy objects in awkward positions everyday, if you work in an office and have to sit for long periods of time at a desk, if you always carry your bag on one shoulder or if you are a regular tennis player that always uses the same arm to hit the ball then there will be some imbalances in the body that can cause uneven loading on the spine, muscular imbalances, instability and improper function of the spine.
It is important to have good movement technique and posture when you are training, doing sports, lifting heavy objects and doing everyday activities. The most important thing is that your body is functioning properly in the mot efficient way possible and not compensating for injuries or lack of flexibility or weakness in an area as this often leads to problems eventually. Your body must be trained and prepared for the action you are about to do whether it is weight training or shovelling snow. If you are about to do something that you haven't done before or haven't done for a long time make sure you do a good warm up. It may seem silly warming up before shovelling snow but you will be thankful that you did if you don't pull your back whilst doing it. Stop if you feel tired or feel any pain. Listen to your body, we often try and over do things. Stretch out after an activity, you don't want to be left with tight muscles. Regain the range of movement in your joints rather than allowing the body to stiffen up.
Conditions Causing Lower Back Pain
Muscular strain or ligament sprain in the back
This is when a muscle or ligament is overstretched or torn in the back causing inflammation and local tenderness. Sudden movements, lifting heavy objects, or moving the back beyond its range of movement, usually causes this.
When the connective tissue in the intervertebral disc tears allowing the jelly like substance on the inside to seep out into the surrounding tissues. This can cause pressure on the spinal cord or spinal nerves in the area causing pain. Improper weight lifting technique and forceful trauma to the vertebral discs often causes this. Symptoms include numbness, tingling and pain in the buttocks, back, down the legs and into the feet. In some cases there can be difficulty controlling the bowel and bladder.
Usually caused by overuse or hyperextension of the spine. Fractures most often occur in the 5th lumbar vertebrae. The bone weakens from the fracture sometimes so much so that the vertebrae shift out of place. This condition is called Spondylolisthesis.
There are different types of Spondylolisthesis there is dysplastic spondylolisthesis, which is a congenital condition when there is a malformation of the lumbosacral junction leading to small incompetent facet joints. Degenerative spondylolisthesis develops as e result of facet arthritis and is most common in older adults. Traumatic spondylolisthesis develops from acute fractures of the facet joints but this is rare. Then lastly there is pathologic spondylolithesis associated with metastases or metabolic bone disease.
The sacroiliac joint is where the sacrum and the right and left ilium of the pelvis join. Sacroiliac dysfunction is when there is abnormal function at the joint either too much or too little movement. The movement at the joint can vary from the left side of the ilium to the right. It usually causes inflammation and pain at the joint.
Degenerative disc disease
The discs degenerate with age, wear and tear. Some people can have degenerative discs and not be affected but some people get chronic lower back pain that can radiate into the hips, buttocks and thighs. It can become severe if it is left untreated.
This is a narrowing of the spinal canal that can occur anywhere along the spine. It reduces space for the spinal nerves so it has neurological affects. Symptoms include numbness, pain and loss of movement control. The most frequent types are lumbar stenosis and cervical stenosis. Cervical stenosis is more severe because it involves compression on the spinal cord. The lumbar stenosis results in compression of the cauda equina.
Some lower back pain remains unexplained but can still be treated and managed. If you get the spine and the muscles around it functioning properly by increasing strength and flexibility, correct poor technique and movement patterns then the back pain should improve.
A muscle spasm is when the muscle becomes irritated and goes into a prolonged contraction. Muscles can often go into a spasm to protect an injured area from further damage. It can also be a result of overused, tired and overstretched muscles. If you have been holding a certain position for a long period of time or doing a strenuous activity this can cause spasm to occur. Athletes who exercise at a high intensity in hot weather can find they get spasms. Dehydration is known to cause spasm due to the depletion of water, glucose, sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium in the muscles. The muscles need a good supply of these nutrients to function properly. If you are doing an activity you are not used to doing this can also cause spasms to take place.
To avoid cramps keep well hydrated, the body should always be prepared for the activity you are about to do that includes gardening, lifting and shoveling snow. If you haven't done any gardening for a while ease back into it slowly and warm-up like you would for any kind of training. If a spasm occurs gently stretch it back to its full length but don't force it.
When a muscle is over stretched the muscle fibers within the muscle tear to some degree. The amount of muscle fibers that tear determines the degree of the strain, the more muscle fibres that tear the worse the strain is and the more bleeding occurs. Scar tissue forms to stop the bleeding and heal the tear, the more bleeding there is the more scar tissue forms. Ice should be used to decrease the amount of bleeding and the amount of scar tissue that gets laid down, this will speed up the recovery later on. The ice should be wrapped in something like a tea towel, never placed directly against the skin, and held on for 10 minutes at a time for the next 48hrs. After 48 hours you want to get blood flow to the area by using heat to aid healing. Blood carries nutrients the muscle needs to heal.
Muscle strains can be caused by sudden strong contractions of the muscle such as accelerating into a sprint, changing direction quickly, a dynamic movement such as kicking a ball or hitting a tennis ball, overstretching a muscle when it is not properly warmed up or pushing a muscle past it's practiced range of motion. It can also be caused by fatigue towards the end of a run, game or training regime, insufficient warm-up, poor muscular co-ordination, poor biomechanics or a postural imbalance such as a tilted pelvis or an imbalance between flexibility and strength of a group of muscles. It is best to have an assessment to understand the cause so you can prevent re occurrence of the injury. I would also advise to get treatment to help break down the scar tissue, regain the flexibility in the muscle a speed up recovery.
A ligament sprain is when the ligaments are overstretched and tear. Ankle sprains are the most common sprains we see in the clinic. There is usually swelling, bruising and pain around the ankle most commonly around the outside of the ankle. Sprains are classified into grades 1 (mild), 2 (moderate) or 3 (severe) depending on the extent of the damage. There are two main ligaments on the outside of the ankle: there's the anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL) and the calcaneofibular ligament (CFL).
In most strains the ATFL tears, it is the more severe strains that the CFL tears as well. In the severe cases the ligaments completely rupture. It is important whatever grade of sprain you have that you rest, ice, elevate and compress it. You may need crutches, a brace or some sort of support as it heals. Once the swelling goes down it is important that you rehabilitate ligament injuries using exercises to gain range of motion, stability and strength back into the area to prevent the injury re-occurring or causing problems elsewhere. Ligaments can often be slow to heal so it is important to seek help to aid recovery.
Tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis doesn't only occur in tennis players but anyone who carries out any repetitive movements of the forearm such as golfers, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, cricket players, people who use a computer mouse a lot, bowlers, gardeners and squash players. The backhand motion of a tennis swing has the most direct impact on that area and is what gives the condition its name. It is the overuse of the extensor or supinator muscles of the forearm and wrist that causes tennis elbow to occur. The pain is felt on the outside of the elbow and can often be described as a knifelike pain that can be pinpointed. The initial treatment is like rest, ice, compression and elevation. If it is a fairly new injury you will need to rest for 3-6 weeks and correct any poor technique before returning to the activity for example racket grip, improper equipment, racket strung too tight, weak or tight muscles around the back and shoulder preventing efficient function, and posture that could have possibly caused the tennis elbow. It is a good idea to get your movement and function tested to prevent any reoccurrence of the problem. If it is a longer standing injury it can take up to 6 months to improve. You should achieve full pain free range of motion and then a strengthening program that focuses on the muscles that stabilize the upper body and reduce strain on the elbow before returning to your sport or activity.
Golfers elbow or medial epicondylitis is similar to tennis elbow but it is caused by repetitive stress on the tendons on the inside of the elbow and overuse of the flexor and pronator muscles of the forearm and wrist. It gets its name because it is commonly seen in golfers but can also be seen in weightlifters and ball players. It can be caused by poor equipment, too strong a grip or poor swing technique. People with golfers elbow complain of pain along the inner elbow and pain can be felt during wrist flexion like in a press up or forearm pronation twisting the forearm like how you would when turning a dial counterclockwise. The initial treatment would be rest, ice, compression and elevation just like you would do for a strain or sprain. Then it is getting pain free range of motion in the area before starting a strengthening program for the upper body to reduce stress on the wrist and forearm and correcting poor technique that may have caused the injury in the first place.
Iliotibial band (ITB) syndrome
The ITB is made of thick fascia and runs from the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and the tensor fascia latae in the hip along the outside of the thigh down to the tibia below the knee. It helps stabilize the knee and hip. A lot of pain that occurs along the outside of the knee is down to ITB syndrome. It is when the iliotibial band gets tight and irritated through overuse and it is often seen in cyclist's runners and triathletes. The overuse can be due to an increase of intensity or duration of an activity or poor movement function such as over-pronation at the foot, the knee not tracking properly due to gluteus weakness or pelvic placement. Usually the pain gets worse throughout the activity making the session difficult to complete. Flexion and extension of the knee can be painful and sometime there is hip pain as well. The ITB is usually very tender and tight. The treatment is rest, ice and stretching the muscles around the hip and ITB. The ITB is hard to stretch so massage is very useful. Working on your exercise technique, a lower body-strengthening program and a gradual return to exercise is key to improving this condition.
Shin splints or medial tibial stress syndrome is when the periosteal sleeve of tissue surrounding the tibia becomes inflamed. Symptoms include a burning or aching pain on the front of the shins. It is a repetitive strain injury usually seen in runners or in people who take part in activities that involve repetitive loading of the lower leg such as tennis or aerobics. It can be caused by; improper shoes, tight calf muscles, over pronation or supination of the foot, increasing intensity or duration of an activity too quickly and running on hard surfaces. The calf muscles work as shock absorbers so if they are tight they will not be pliable enough to cushion the landing of the foot. The calves also need to be strong enough to stabilize the lower leg. The treatment involves ice for the inflammation; rest initially until pain subsides, then rehabilitation, which will include stretching, and strengthening the muscles around the ankle. Try and get your gait analysed to check for any functional faults.
There are fibrous bands of tissue including the arch ligament, planter aponeurosis that run from the heel bone and attach into the ligaments of the toes that we call plantar fascia. When the heel is lifted like during the push off phase of running or running up a hill the angle between the heel and the toes increase so the band of tissue is stretched. If the tissues are too tight or overused it is at these times when the toes are bent and there is load going through the foot that the plantar fascia is vulnerable to injury. It can be caused by a fast change of direction or a sudden take off in a run that can cause damage to the plantar fascia. If the foot is over pronating there will be more chance of an overuse injury or tear. The result of over pronation is a stretched arch of the foot and spread toes adding to the strain on the plantar fascia. There is usually pain around the heel or arch of the foot especially in the mornings when it's stiff. Achilles tenderness and tightness can also be associated with plantar fasciitis. You must ice and rest as much as possible. Stop any activity that causes strain on the plantar fascia like running and walking uphill. Stick to activities such as cycling and swimming. You can use taping to unload the area and apply heat after the acute phase is over. Seek professional treatment fir more guidance on how to recover and get back to training.