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.

Massage Therapy from Pharoah to Plano Texas

March 7, 2010

john_james_massage_plano

John James, LMT

Massage in many forms has existed since the beginning of human history. The power of physical touch to soothe, comfort and even to heal physical and emotional pain has been noted in all civilizations.  Many cultures have evolved massage therapy techniques into distinctly different and recognizable methods.

Early Records of Therapeutic Manipulation

Ancient Egyptian, Indian and Chinese civilizations produced the first written records of manual techniques for medicinal and therapeutic uses. Drawings on pyramid walls and papyrii from nearly four thousand years ago advise manipulation and specific types of gentle touching for pain relief. The Ayurveda, a pre-Christian medical script, codifies specific manual methods which are still used today. Traditional Chinese medicine is based upon Huangdi Neijing, written in the first or second century BC, which includes the recommendation for stroking, stretching and repeated gentle blows to the muscles among its methods.

Hippocrates, the Greek physician often called the “father of Western medicine” strongly promoted massage. So did Julius Caesar who demanded massage therapy daily to treat his frequent headaches.

Massage became widespread in France during the sixteenth century due to surgeon Andre Pare’, the Royal Court physician to four French kings. Inventor of hemostats and the first to use ligatures in surgery, Pare’ commonly used massage therapy practices on his patients. Many of the terms used in teaching classic massage techniques today are of French origin - i.e. effleurage, petrissage, tapotement.

That’s Swedish Isn’t It?

Widely used and known to most people in the West, “Swedish massage” is a collection of methods initially developed in the 1800s by the Swedish doctor Per Henrik Ling. Borrowing techniques he learned from the traditional Chinese manipulative therapy tui na and from Asian martial arts, Ling founded the Royal Central Institute for Gymnastics in Stockholm to educate physiotherapists in his medical gymnastics protocols.

The development of “classic” Swedish massage as a separate discipline, and, the use of French terms for its techniques, is credited to Dutchman  Johan Georg Mezger (1838-1909). Mezger, a massage practitioner, compiled a reduced set of techniques and maneuvers from Ling’s gymnastics into what he called the “Swedish massage system”, the collection of strokes used in classic massage that are still employed today. So what is commonly known today as “Swedish massage” was actually developed by the ancient Chinese, systematized and given French technique names by a Dutchman, and yes, finally employed and widely popularized by a Swede – Per Henrik Ling.

Recent Developments in Massage

The twentieth century has seen America evolve its own physical therapies based on more subtle understanding of human anatomy, and, on selected ancient techniques. Two advanced methods in particular have emerged as popular and effective – myofascial release technique and cranosacral therapy.

Myofascial Release Therapy

Devised by the internationally recognized physical therapist John F. Barnes, myofascial release therapy considers the patient’s whole body rather than just isolated symptoms of aches and pains.Rather than focus entirely on musculature, this whole body approach considers the tissue that joins, supports and surrounds the muscles, the fascia, as equally important. The myo-fascial unit composed of muscle fibers and fascia should move smoothly within the body, gliding over adjoining muscles, structures and even its own muscle fibers.

Injuries, overuse or poor posture may cause the smooth and flexible myofascial tissue to shorten and become rigid and inelastic. Pain is caused thereby, range of motion is restricted and muscle spasms might occur. Stress to the myo-fascial unit and imbalance can radiate up and down the body causing pain in unexpected locations.

Myofascial release techniques restore the smooth functioning of the fascia caused by injured muscles, and, stretch the fascia/muscle unit back to its normal length. This form of massage therapy releases tight, bound-up areas of muscle in a gradual way, slowly evening-out tight, injured fascia and relieving pain.

Craniosacral Therapy

An Osteopathic Physician and Professor of Biomechanics at Michigan State University, Dr. John E. Upledger developed CranioSacral Therapy after years of research and clinical testing. Focused on improvement of central nervous system performance, CranioSacral Therapy frees circulation of the brain’s cerebrospinal fluid by relaxing the fascial tissue surrounding the spine. By relaxing restrictions to the free flow of cerebrospinal fluid in the spine and in the cranium, migraines, insomnia, and TMJ pain and tension from stress can all be reduced.

Call me to learn how massage therapy techniques descended from ancient sources can help you now:

John James, LMT
John James Massage Therapy Plano Texas
469 855-2049

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