Sports Therapy Massage
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Sports Massage - a perspective from Steve Dickenson (Sports & Remedial Massage Specialist)
What is sports massage?
There is both much confusion over what a Sports Masseur is and what one does or can offer. This is due to the fact that there are so many people practicing ‘massage' and so many practitioners with different skills and levels of experience.
A Sports massage is ideal to treat injuries and as well as a preventative treatment dealing with the health of muscle and connective tissue, range of movement, tone, symmetry, balance of muscle and quality of posture.
I further define my role as ‘the manipulation of soft tissue to release tension, reduce pain, restore range of movement and promote good condition'. This is achieved through a range of techniques I possess and carry around in my ‘tool bag', some of which are effective on some people, some of which are not. It is then down to me to work with my clients to find the right tools to unravel their current injury situation or assist them with their training program. Essentially the ‘manipulation of soft tissue' in my books means moving muscles, tendons, ligaments and connective tissue around in a range of ways to achieve the desired effect.
What techniques does a sports massage practitioner use?
As practitioners, our backgrounds, training and working experiences do make our individual ways of working quite different. When you couple this with the varying shapes and sizes of clients, their own tolerance levels and their differing requirements, treatments can alter tremendously. This can include the standard ‘massage' techniques, stroking through muscles groups or picking specific muscles out and creating movement within them in different directions or at varying depths and strengths. It could also be the isolation of a muscle or muscle groups and stretching them in any number of ways with client participation, passive/subtle movements along the muscle body or indeed deep into specific areas as deemed appropriate.Working into specific areas concentrating efforts to break down tensions or ‘adhesions' may be required or separating the layers of connective tissue may be the key to remedy the situation in hand.
When looking at and treating the injury or symptoms, root causes are also carefully considered and this may lead the treatment into other areas around the body. Some of these areas may seem quite a strange to work on to begin with given the case scenario and therefore advising the client is always something that I try to achieve in the most simplistic, understandable way.
If there is pain or discomfort, loss of mobility or restriction of movement we, as soft tissue specialists, can treat and hopefully cure. If there is a sporting activity or a training schedule being followed regular treatments can enhance performance and an ongoing relationship with the practitioner can only make this even more effective. Similarly our everyday working lives and lifestyles create the same set of problems and these, in the same way, can also be treated successfully.
I treat males, females the young and old following a code of conduct and etiquette. For minors, parental consent and presence are required at all times and if required a chaperone is allowed to accompany a client. Clients need to feel comfortable and confident in the professionalism, manner and ability of the practitioner and simple communication is key.
What training does a Sports Massage Practitioner do?
My training was with the London School of Sports Massage and I was very pleased with the tools I left with. The course was part time, lasting the best part of a year, with weekend attendance every month and home study and lots of ‘hands on' practice to complete. This ended with two practical test sessions and two written examinations (including an Anatomy and Physiology paper) plus 5 study papers submitted at various intervals during the year and a treatment log giving a minimum of 100 hours work with brief explanations. The real training started post qualification gaining experience with real life clients with real problems calling on you to solve and seek advice!