Sports Massage Therapy Benefits Swimmers Pre and Post Event

May 21, 2010

Evelyn Davis Licensed Massage Therapist

Evelyn Davis Licensed Massage Therapist

Sports massage therapy for swimmers has both physical and psychological benefits. Serious competitors and recreational swimmers alike can improve their swimming performance with sports massage therapy designed specifically for the issues swimmers face.

Swim athletes worldwide now view regular massage as a necessary part of their training regimen. Sports massage therapy increases blood flow which reduces soreness and speeds recovery. Certain sports massage techniques, properly applied,  increase the range of motion of injured muscles and further accelerate the healing process. With a shorter time required for full recovery you can increase workouts and adapt your body to a higher level of physical stress.

For swimmers’ sports massages we prefer a combination of trigger point massage, myofascial release and Swedish massage methods aimed at the muscle groups and movements that swimmers use in order to swim fast.

swimmer sports massage therapy

Trigger point release of the infraspinatus muscle.

Most swimmers generally get tight in the areas underneath and behind the shoulder blades, with lots of tender trigger points. Swedish massage movements are best here to relieve the general tension in the muscles while the patient is lying on their side. Trigger points are released with careful pressure as they arise. In particular in swimmers, the infraspinatus muscle (see photo) often triggers and refers pain to the front of the shoulder, limiting the internal rotation which is needed for a good “catch”.

Another area of significant range-of-motion concern for swimmers is the myofascia located below the shoulder at the side and extending the length of the latissimus dorsai down to the lower back. Tightness in this long muscle and fascia group is a significant impediment for swimmers. For this area we use a myofascial release technique which stretches the muscle and fascia in a very targeted way.

Swimmers all seem to generate trigger points on the back between the spine and

top of shoulder trigger point release

Top of shoulder trigger point.

shoulder blade as well as on top of the shoulder closely adjacent to the neck. We find that relieving these irritations significantly improves relaxation, posture, and breathing.

Here are some thoughts about how massage could be incorporated into your swimming regimen:

Pre-swim meet: Use a sports massage to aid in warming up your muscles before training or an event. A sports massage can help stretch the muscles as well as stimulating blood flow and relaxation. By having the muscles well stretched and relaxed it can help prevent sports injuries. Massages can provide benefits even if performed up to two days before an event.  And it’ll relax you – a competitive edge!

Post-swim meet: Utilize a sports massage after the sporting event to help in muscle recovery. A post-event sports massage can also aid in reducing muscle spasm and soreness. Post-event massages are short and direct lasting usually only 30 minutes. The post-event focuses on the muscles used specifically for the sport. After striving hard a massage will increase your blood circulation to speed the removal of fatigue toxins, relieve your muscle spasms and prevent soreness.

Fine-tuning: For regular fine-tuning a massage will search out and relieve areas of bio-mechanical stress in your muscles before they become problems, enabling you to train harder and more consistently.

Injury Rehabilitation: Massage will speed healing of your injuries, increase your range of motion, and reduce scar tissue thus allowing your muscles to expand and contract fully. With less time spent recovering you’ll be training at your peak levels more often and become more competitive.

John James Massage Plano is a sponsor of the City Of Plano Swimmers (COPS)  and provides complimentary massage services to COPS members at their regular swim meets.

Reflexology: Addressing Pain and Putting Cancer Patients at Ease

May 18, 2010

Jack Bleeker
May 2010

With roots in ancient Egypt, China, and Japan, the art of reflexology is a healing and relaxation technique that has stood the test of time and is familiar to many today. Found on treatment menus in world-class spas and on the schedules of many hospital-based palliative care centers, reflexology is viewed by skeptics as just a foot massage, but those who have recognized the therapy’s benefits will loudly proclaim that it is much, much more.

For patients with cancer, such as those battling malignant mesothelioma, reflexology is said to have numerous benefits. Used as a complementary therapy along with conventional treatments like chemotherapy and radiation, proponents of reflexology note that the treatment goes a long way in addressing such issues as pain, anxiety, nausea, and vomiting. Especially upon the mesothelioma prognosis, these individuals are in dire need of therapeutic relief from the side effects mentioned.

So how does a foot rub help eliminate the unpleasant effects of cancer? Simply put, reflexology involves applying pressure to and stretching the hands and feet in order to trigger responses in other parts of the body. Experts theorize that the pressure sends a calming message from the peripheral nervous system to the central nervous system, where it signals the body to adjust its tension level, therefore creating a feeling of overall relaxation, increasing blood supply, and bringing organs to an optimal level of functioning. Others say the success of reflexology relates to the “gate control” theory of pain relief, which theorizes that pain is a subjective experience created by an individual’s brain. The notion that factors like mood or stress can also affect the experience of pain enters into play here. Hence, reflexology can reduce pain by relieving stress and anxiety.

Though there is no steadfast scientific evidence that reflexology offers an cure for cancers like mesothelioma or any other disease, numerous studies have shown that this complementary therapy improves quality of life for many cancer patients, even if just for a short time, hence, its inclusion in many complementary and palliative care programs at cancer hospitals nationwide.

A 2000 study at the School of Nursing at East Carolina University, for example, involved 23 breast and lung cancer patients who noted “a significant decrease” in anxiety with the use of reflexology treatment. This, wrote the professionals that authored the study, “has important implications for nursing practice as both professionals and lay people can be taught reflexology.

“Reflexology is a simple technique for human touch which can be performed anywhere, requires no special equipment, is non-invasive and does not interfere with patients’ privacy,” the study continues.

Indeed, many medical professionals have suggested that caregivers for cancer patients take time to learn reflexology so that they can use it when necessary to help those for whom they are caring find relief from the pain and stress associated with the disease. Furthermore, noted study leader Dr. Nancy Stephenson, in the case of those caring for spouses or other family members, “the therapy provides a way for partners to get involved in their loved one’s care at a time when they may feel there is nothing they can do to help.”

Sources:
University of Minnesota, http://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/explore-healing-practices/reflexology/how-does-reflexology-work

American Cancer Society, http://www.cancer.org/docroot/ETO/content/ETO_5_3X_Reflexology.asp

Dosing, Cancer, and Reflexology (Kunz), http://www.reflexology-research.com/dosing.html

—-
Laura Norman Wellness
Comprehensive Reflexology training
courses using unique
Reflexology techniques
in NY and FL.

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