So what does all of this mean? It seems that the positive mind (psychological) benefits of sports massage are indeed supported by research studies. Study findings also support that sports massage does not negatively affect performance, but the positive body (physiological) benefits on performance are not quite as clear. More research is needed on the positive body effects and also on the mind/body interaction after sports massage.
A study conducted by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and published in The New York Times, found that volunteers who received a 45-minute Swedish massage experienced significant decreases in levels of the stress hormone cortisol, as well as arginine vasopressin-a hormone that can lead to increases in cortisol. Volunteers also had increases in the number of lymphocytes, white blood cells that are part of the immune system, and a boost in the immune cells that may help fight colds and the flu.
One narrative review in Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine explains that the impact of using these two modalities combined are somewhat inconclusive, mainly due to research limitations; however, after looking at 21 randomized controlled trials, the author ultimately concluded that “the effects of cold and static compression are clearly better than no treatment.”
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There’s just no reason to push a client to that “cringe point.” It’s ham-handed, tends to indicate a simplistic “more is better” approach to the work, and simply isn’t needed — that’s not what defines “intensity” in a good massage. Very strong and sastisfying pressure can always be achieved without that edgy, nervous-system-almost-rebelling feeling.
Each type of sports massage uses different massage techniques. Effleurage is a light stroking that can be performed with the palms or the thumbs. The pressure and speed is varied depending on the muscle and the desired result. Effleurage increases blood flow to the muscle. Petrissage is a form of two-handed kneading in which both hands pick up the muscle and compress it. This technique loosens tight bunches of muscles. Percussive strokes are blows or strikes on the muscle, often performed with the little fingers. They are used to tone the muscles. Cupping involves percussing or striking the muscles with cupped hands. It stimulates the skin and causes muscle contractions that help tone the muscles. There are variations on all these strokes, such as deep cross-fiber friction to separate muscle fibers and break down scar tissue, and jostling to relieve muscle tension. A good sports massage therapist will combine techniques to achieve the maximum desired result. Sports massage sessions generally last 30-60 minutes.
Reflex zone is the region in the zone therapy that illustrates its interconnection with the whole parts of the body. Pressure applied to this region will help specific organ or particular part to alleviate the pain and symptoms of a disease. According to the theory, there is an invisible pathway that runs along the body in a vertical form based on the lines instead of reflexology maps in which each point on the soles of hand and feet correspond to a specific organ. Reflex zone therapy (Fig. 9) represents five zones in both sides of the feet.12 This zone is running along the whole body parts from top of the head until the tips of the toes and fingers and the whole body is divided into ten reflex zones.12 Each zone interconnects with different parts of the body.10 Reflex zone therapy-specific organ relationship is presented in Table 1 and Table 2.
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Manual lymphatic drainage is a technique used to gently work and stimulate the lymphatic system, to assist in reduction of localized swelling. The lymphatic system is a network of slow moving vessels in the body that carries cellular waste toward the heart, to be filtered and removed. Lymph also carries lymphocytes, and other immune system agents. Manual lymphatic drainage claims to improve waste removal and immune function.
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Deep tissue technique uses very little to no lubricant so that the muscles can be hooked or grabbed, thereby stretching and lengthening them, and to separate adhered muscle compartments. Strokes will be considerably slower and possibly shorter as the therapist waits for a slow release of tension. Some areas may be skipped so more time can be spent on specific areas of need. Doing this provides better alignment of the muscles and less restriction in the joints, thereby improving their movement and function. It is a massage in which the primary goal is less about general relaxation and more about promoting change in the actual structure of the body.
Massagetique is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, medical treatment, or diagnosis. Always seek the advice of your qualified health care provider or physician with any questions you may have regarding any symptom or medical condition. Never disregard professional or medical advice or delay in seeking evaluation or treatment because of something you have read on Massagetique.
I’ve worked in a variety of exciting environments, including the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, the Greece Paralympic Summer Games and on the road with the U.S. National Powerlifting Team. Plus, I have worked with collegiate, ABL and WNBA athletes. Currently, I travel with the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) as part of the sports science and medicine team. In my private clinic, I specialize in orthopedic massage.
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