Massage is the general term for a process of soft tissue manipulation of one’s body to produce a desired effect. When people normally think of massage, they envision a relaxing rub at the beauty spa, with peaceful music and nice-smelling oils. Indeed, the applications of massage are quite varied, and the results and healing effects are just as numerous, depending on the experience and knowledge of the person performing the work and the underlying reason for the therapy.
In truth, massage is now an accepted form of therapy for physical rehabilitation and is a common practice across all professional sports where most elite teams have a professional therapist on staff. Many major cities also have professional clinics with highly-trained and certified therapists who help clients prevent and recover from injuries, enhance their performance, minimize stress, and relieve pain.
While there are more than fifty different techniques leveraged by therapists, many procedures combine several together. Overall, there are four major categories:
- Swedish: Used to improve circulation while reducing the effect of muscle scarring, this technique is perhaps one of the most well known and the one most commonly used by spas for relaxation. The technique is characterized by heavy pushing and pulling of tissues..
- Sports massage: This category is a combination of techniques that specifically impact athletes, often used in different contexts, to prepare an athlete for an event or to help her calm down afterwards. In each case, techniques would be employed to limber-up muscles, stimulate circulation to enhance the delivery of oxygen throughout the body and to aid in the reduction of wastes.
- Rolfing: This treatment is used in injury prevention, effectively drawing the skin away from the underlying tissue matrix through the application of vigorous rubbing. By loosening the fibres, range of motion is increased.
- Accupressure: Leveraging the chi, a healing energy which many believe exists throughout the body, a therapist targets pressure points which, according to the art, are connected to the functioning of the body’s organs. By manipulating specific points, a therapist can improve the condition and healing ability of entire regions. A similar methodology of Japanese origin is Shiatsu where fingers are used for pressure application instead of hands.
Overall, depending on the situation, massage can be applied that will enhance the functioning of the central nervous system, the circulatory system, and the lymphatic system. Contracted and tight muscles can be loosened and relaxed, along with an athlete’s mind, leading to faster decision-making and improved performance. Stress is a killer, literally, and massage employed before and after events can go a long way to build game confidence and drive real results.