Typically, sports massage therapists hold a certification and maintain licensure. A good option is to become board certified through the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) and have an active membership with an association, like AMTA, to keep up to date with industry trends. Exact requirements depend upon the state in which the sports massage therapist practices.
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As the name suggests, deep tissue massage applies deep pressure onto specific trouble points. It feels very much like someone is torturing you on purpose by pushing into your knotted muscle, and the massage can leave you feeling sore. It's not just more pressure all over your body, however (which would be true torture), it's very specific, methodical treatment. As Moyer Wellness explains:
Good pain. In massage, there is a curious phenomenon widely known as “good pain.” It arises from a sensory contradiction between the sensitivity to pressure and the “instinctive” sense that the pressure is also a source of relief. So pressure can be an intense sensation that just feels right somehow. It’s strong, but it’s welcome. Good pains are usually dull and aching, and are often described as a “sweet” aching. The best good pain may be such a relief that “pain” isn’t even really the right word.
Sports Massage is a combination of massage strokes and techniques combined with flexibility and specific exercise routines geared to increase an athletes performance capabilities. The application of Sports Massage is determined by ones own specific anatomical and physiological needs. Basic musculoskelatal evaluations, orthopedic assessments, and flexibility analysis do this. By determining the athletes specific needs, the Sports Massage therapist will not only be able to provide increased strength, speed and flexibility, but also improve biomechanical efficiency and decrease the potential for injury. This is a comprehensive program with a shared responsibility between the Sports Massage Therapist and the athlete.
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@Gayle- At Athletico we do not bill insurance directly for Massage Services, unless they are a part of your Physical Therapy/Occupational Therapy treatment plan. On its own, Massage is fee-for-service. We would be more than happy to provide you with a receipt that you could use to submit for reimbursement. We have a Massage Therapist in Glenview and in Buffalo Grove- they are both awesome!
Reflexology has a number of benefits. At its most basic level, it is a soothing experience that is helpful for stress-relief. If the specific reflex points are targeted correctly by a reflexologists, the benefits can be remarkable, including relief from migraines, circulatory and digestive issues, sinus problems and more. In general, any organ of the body with a correlating reflex point can be improved through regular reflexology treatments.
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So what should runners book instead? Anna Gammal, a massage therapist who works with elite runners at the Boston Marathon each year and also massaged athletes at the 2004 and 2012 Olympics, recommends either a sports massage (i.e. targeted therapeutic treatment for the unique physical and biomechanical needs of athletes) or a myofascial release massage (i.e. the application of gentle, sustained pressure on soft tissue restrictions). Both specifically target muscle release and will help improve flexibility, reduce pain and increase range of motion.
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Recovery. Therapeutic massage helps the body recover from the stresses of strenuous exercise, and facilitates the rebuilding phase of conditioning. The physiological benefits of massage include improved blood and lymph circulation, muscle relaxation, and general relaxation. These, in turn, lead to removal of waste products and better cell nutrition, normalization and greater elasticity of tissues, deactivation of trigger points, and faster healing of injuries. It all adds up to relief from soreness and stiffness, better flexibility, and less potential for future injury.
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The best we can say is that there is some reason to believe that painful pressures on muscles might be therapeutic for some people some of the time. Pretty decisive, eh? This is why it drives me nutters that so many therapists insist that strong pressures are “essential” to achieve “a complete release.” It really isn’t possible to know! It really does depend! Why would anyone pretend to “know”?