Sports Massage or soft tissue therapy is the manipulation and mobilisation of soft tissue structures such as muscles, tendons, ligaments and connective tissue. It helps to improve muscle functionality increasing flexibility and elasticity of the muscle fibres. It does also release tension and is effective in reducing pain and discomfort.
When muscle tension builds up and it is not treated effectively, in the long term it can cause chronic pain and may lead to injuries. Regular treatment can help to prevent injury.
The different techniques used in Sports Massage are as follows:
- Compression (dry technique): This technique allows the therapist to identify spots of tension, tender muscles, adhesions or scar tissue. It also helps to warm up, flash and relax the tissue and addresses other tissue receptors. It also deactivates or relaxes tense muscles when using deeper strokes.
- Effleurage: It consists of long and smooth strokes along the fibres of the muscle. It allows the therapist to palpate any irregularities of the tissue as well as to establish the first contact with the client’s skin. It also warms and flushes the tissue.
- Petrissage: A technique consisting on lifting, kneading and picking up the tissue. This helps to separate tissue and stimulates circulation and tissue fluid. It can also help to relax the muscle.
- Friction: The therapist applies pressure on the target muscle using thumbs, elbow or knuckles in different directions such as transverse, longitudinal or circular. The movements are slow so the depth is controlled depending on the severity of the injury or the quality of the tissue.
- Tapotement: Great technique to stimulate or relax the tissue. It does also enhance muscle tone, stimulates skin and muscle contraction, breaks up fluid congestion in lungs and stimulates sensory receptors.
- Vibration: It consists of grabbing the tissue and shaking it with controlled but firm movements. This is a dry technique and like the others it has some physiological effects such as relaxation or stimulation of the tissue, increase of blood circulation and muscle hypertonicity decrease.
- Muscle Energy Technique (MET): is a combination of techniques which allow to stretch and strengthen muscles as well as to break down adhesions.
- Soft Tissue Release is a form of stretching used mainly to elongate muscle tissue but can also help to release tensed muscles and relieve chronic tissue congestion, improve elasticity of the muscle, break up scar tissue and/or disengage adhesions.
- Trigger Points Treatment: This technique is applied with strong manual pressure and is aimed to eliminate muscle knots known as trigger points which may refer pain both in the local area or/and to other areas of the body.
- Positional release: Technique that involves moving the tightened muscle and joint into a position in which the client’s pain is reduced.
- Myofascial release: technique used to stretch and loosen the fascia which is the dense tough tissue that surrounds the muscles and bones of the body.