He Shoots, She Scores, They’re All Sore! – Therapeutic Sports Massage
The thrill of victory. You scored last night’s game winning goal and now you’re waking up like you’ve been hit by a ton of bricks… we get it! We all love sports and staying active but most of us wake up sore in the morning. While there are steps to loosen the muscles and warm up your body before strenuous exercise, soreness is almost always an after-effect of a good workout. But don’t get discouraged! Just like warming up, there are steps you can take to relieve the ‘good sore’ – tense muscle knots you may be experiencing.
Regardless of the active lifestyle you lead, you’re bound to get sore after a workout… and sports are definitely a workout. You want to treat the affected areas as soon as possible to aid in the healing and recovery of your muscles. If not, a simple injury can delay conditioning, preparation, and stunt overall performance in the blink of an eye. When injuries are left untreated, the probability that the same injury will reoccur spikes and can cause repetitive injuries to the same area. Consequently, the likelihood that these same injuries become permanent conditions increases as well.
Massage therapy is used to stimulate the blood flow in the targeted muscle areas. By doing so, your muscles are able to rebuild the fibers that were torn or damaged during strenuous activity. While massage therapy cannot directly heal a wound, its primary goal is to aid the healing process by allowing more circulation to the sore area. When tension builds up, a knot can form that will continue to hurt until it’s released. These can be tender or downright painful so the sooner they are treated, the sooner your mobility improves. With that being said, massage therapy is excellent for pain management so for those that build up tension in the same places after exercise, this may be the preventative treatment you’re looking for. By stimulating the muscles and improving oxygen and blood flow throughout the body, you’ll notice you can endure more strenuous exercise over a period of time than if you exerted yourself with no massage therapy at all. And if that doesn’t sell you on it, not only will your mobility and endurance improve, but you may see improvement in your moods, blood pressure, and anxiety levels as well.
Now that you know what massage therapy is, you may be wondering how it’s done. Luckily, massage therapy is something that can be done in a spa or on your couch at home. Self-massages are now easier than ever because there are so many nifty tools that target every sore muscle you may want to treat. There’s vibrational therapy, trigger-point massage, cryotherapy, and reflexology to heal any pains you may be feeling. But if you aren’t sure which route is right for you, start with a professional. They can listen to your concerns and target the problem areas that are bothering you most. Choose your therapist wisely as you want someone properly certified that can make you feel comfortable throughout your visit.
Otherwise, if you want to try this in the comfort of your own home, there are many types of massage to try:
The new wave of massage techniques! Vibrating manual massagers are becoming more and more prominent because of the numerous benefits they have to offer. Vibrations help with improved blood circulation, can stimulate nerves in the body, and aid in muscle recovery. And at lower settings, vibrational therapy is good for relaxation and stress reduction so even on your off days, you can treat your sore muscles from the day before. According to the Mayo Clinic, after some research, “Advocates say as little as 15 minutes a day of whole-body vibration three times a week may aid weight loss, burn fat, improve flexibility, enhance blood flow, reduce muscle soreness after exercise, build strength and decrease the stress hormone cortisol.” Love this idea? Try the Power Peanut (shown below) or the Vibe 2.0 for full body relaxation and recovery.
Otherwise known as cold therapy, this technique uses freezing temperatures on a localized area for reduction in swelling and muscle pains. Much like using an ice pack, the cold helps to numb the pain receptors in the affected area. Tools such as massage roller balls, that are made from materials perfect for freezing temps, can not only treat sprains and inflammation, but can also knead out any tension that may arise by easily gliding over the body during the massage. You can use as much or as little pressure as you feel is necessary to relieve any tense knots in your muscles. And if you aren’t keen on cold therapy, try using the roller ball at room temp and really focus on the movements over the targeted muscles.
Trigger Point Massage
Trigger points develop from either stress, repetitive or overuse of a muscle, trauma or accident, structural imbalance, improper stretching or no stretching before physical activity. When a muscle is overused or injured, a contraction develops, and knots occur. These knots develop when individual muscle fibers are over-stimulated and unable to release from their contracted state. With 30-45 seconds of firm, consistent pressure, you can unwind a formed knot causing a release, and pain relief in turn. While others have found methods similar to trigger point massage, we’ve found using a tool specific for this technique is way easier. A massage cane has specific knobs for each individual trigger point so there is no guessing for which knobs treats what area of the body. And, with smaller models like the Buddy Jr., these are relatively small, are good for travel, and can be used anywhere you need it.
Reflexology is an ancient Chinese practice that believes in the life force that flows within the body. When there are disruptions or imbalances in that natural flow, pain will reside at the blockage. Much like referred pain, you may feel pain in one part of your body when in reality, the pain resides somewhere else entirely. Pressure points for reflexology are found within the hands, feet, and earlobes and can be targeted when pains arise. Using continued pressure for approximately 45 seconds, your body should relax and pains that were strong before should begin to subside. This can be repeated as often as you feel necessary!
With multiple methodologies to try, we recommend that athletes of all levels try them all and find the technique that best fits. In order to remain in tip-top shape, do the preventative measures to prepare your body for strenuous exercise. And if you’re still sore from the agony of defeat when you’re done, treat your aches and pains so you can get right bodyBACK at it again tomorrow!
"The Benefits of Sports Massage ~ Maintaining Your Maserati." Deep Recovery, 24 July 2016, deeprecovery.com/sports-massage-benefits-for-athletes/. Accessed 27 Oct. 2020.
Laskowski, Edward R., M.D. "Is whole-body vibration a good way to lose weight and improve fitness?" Mayo Clinic, 8 Apr. 2020, www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/expert-answers/whole-body-vibration/faq-20057958. Accessed 27 Oct. 2020.
Morse, Dawn. "Benefits of Sports Massage Therapy." Core Elements, 18 Feb. 2019, coreelements.uk.com/2019/02/18/benefits-of-sports-massage-therapy/#:~:text=Benefits%20of%20therapeutic%20sports%20massage&text=Increased%20range%20of%20motion%2C%20leading,physical%20and%20psychological%20stress%20levels. Accessed 27 Oct. 2020.