Massage – there ain’t a tennis player that would go without!
I am writing this as one of the players down here at the Australian Open asked me too. She felt that when she started out she didn’t know anything about massage. She thought it was all about light fluffy relaxation stuff and didn’t think there was any point to it all – as a result she missed out on a lot of massage earlier on in her career which she felt would have helped considerably in many aspects of her sporting ability including recovery, injury prevention and optimising performance. Now, there is no way she would go without incorporating 2-3 massages a week into her schedule.
There are some times that a massage needs to be lighter to help encourage relaxation of muscles, for example if an area is very sensitive or painful. But there are so many, other, different forms of massage, or “soft tissue work” for different things.
Fascial release works to release the connective tissue in the body. Connective tissue connects everything, all our muscles, organs, running over bones and over joints. Special techniques are used to release this and in doing so allow much freer movement around the body.
Trigger point therapy finds certain points in the muscles that have become locked up, what we would call a “knot”. These points create an imbalance in the muscle preventing it from working well. Pressure to these points helps to restore normal muscle function.
Deep tissue work is great for really getting into all the layers of muscle and is often used as recovery. The massage is firm and really gets deep into the muscles helping to free them off. This would often be used if you were having a rest day from exercise the next day. In some ways it is like a big work out for the muscle system and as a result you may feel a bit sluggish the next day. “Flushing” is used when you have finished an event and helps to clear the muscles of all the post exercise affects – almost every player that comes off court will shower and then come in for a flush.
Remedial massage focuses on injury. Pain causes a whole cascade of events, many of them unwanted. Massage can help to reverse many of these changes helping to facilitate a quicker recovery.
A good massage therapist has a barrage of tools, many different ways to work on the muscle and fascial system to restore “normal”. Whether you are an elite athlete having massage 2-3 times a week, an exercise junky or someone who works in a physical job maybe getting in once a week, a stress head with tight everything staying on top of your body maybe only able to get in once a month, or someone with an injury trying to get yourself over this hurdle, there is always some form of massage that would benefit you. Please stop thinking of massage as pampering luxury…..you couldn’t be further from the truth. Start putting in to your body if you want to get the results out!