Sports Injuries And Rehabilitation
To be honest a great deal of people choose sports massage as a treatment even though their problem has more to do with sitting at a desk all day than sporting endeavors, and that is fine. Sports massage as a label has a reputation for being stronger and deeper than for instance Swedish massage, on which its techniques are based, but they are not fundamentally different treatments. The difference comes from the Sports massage therapist having been trained in how to manage sports injuries and how to advise on altered training patterns. In fact in some situations- within the 3 days prior to an event or immediately after, a sports massage should be more gentle. Before a race for example, a deep massage reduces resting muscle tone which can leave the athlete feeling heavy and not performing to their best ability, and immediately after it can cause more tissue damage and actually lengthen recovery time. Although some people, for instance body builders actually choose to do this as slightly increasing the micro trauma of training can also lead to greater muscle growth.
Sports therapy in the clinic
Broadly musculoskeletal issues are hands down the thing we deal with most frequently in clinic. Even when there is a significant sports or training component, posture and alignment almost always come into play. We take a whole body approach in treating any musculoskeletal problem and sports and training related issues are no exception.
For example an elbow injury on one side from weight training may appear to be simply an elbow problem but when we look for the reason it has come about there is usually something about the alignment of the shoulder, wrist, and spine that contributed to the strain, overuse or misuse on that side. Even more so in the lower body, a painful knee from running could be due to a previous injury creating a weakness on that side, or excess tension in the hip, a lack of stability in the pelvis and lower back, a restriction in the mobility of the ankle, or a habitual turn out of the foot etc, leading to biomechanical strain which upon repetition causes the pain and disfunction.
In the clinic we begin by taking a full case history and assess the movement of the body to try and identify the conditions leading to the injury, and then alongside treating the area of pain to reduce it and restore mobility, we will work on surrounding alignment issues that contributed to the problem with exercises and alignment cues to help reduce that strain so the problem doesn’t simply recur when the activity is resumed. We may identify trigger point activity that contributes to the pain, and muscle tension and restriction you aren’t even aware of that has an effect on the biomechanics. Indeed often the biggest challenge is for the client to adapt their technique in this way.
Issues we commonly see in clinic include muscular strain, sprain, tear, tendonitis, tendinopathy, as well as chronic tension and aching pain. This can be in any area of the body, we see a lot of shoulder, knee, hip, ankle, wrist, back, and neck pain. And as previously stated a great deal of problems start not with the sport and exercise but with the seated sedentary working positions so prevalent these days.
We take a very individualised approach so any treatment plan is tailored to the patient to take into account their specific biomechanical situation and needs. Treatment applied takes this into account, if you don’t want to use acupuncture, we don’t have to. Where their is a pain and rehabilitation situation We will use bodywork, including myofascial release, shiatsu, trigger point therapy or neuromuscular technique so relieve the tension and pain, and follow up with rehabilitative exercises and then introduce alignment of movement cues to help the person adapt to a more functional movement pattern.
Where the aim of the treatment is more general maintenance through a training program, recovery after an event or preparation leading up to an event we will use more conventional sports massage techniques, but still sometimes drawing from acupressure in the forms of tui na or shiatsu and deep tissue massage as appropriate.
We believe that a lot of the time the release work has to be done before the exercises can be effective since when a muscle is overactive it will often fire inappropriately so the exercise is not effective. This is why some people find physiotherapy does not help them. We also believe that movement is good and always try and get people back to training as soon as possible. Sometimes you really have to rest for a period, and then gradually increase training again, but we appreciate the commitment people have to their sports and will always try and get you back on the track/ mat/ court/ horse etc as soon as possible!