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Massage therapy and the injured athlete

Massage therapy can be a helpful tool for athletes who would like to push themselves to the next performance level and enhance their recovery phase while helping to prevent future injuries before they occur.
If an injury has already happened, then any athlete knows that time on the sidelines is ahead while the body takes time to heal. When injury occurs, it’s important to do a specific rehabilitative exercise to strengthen weakened muscles as recommended by a physical therapist for proper function of the affected area. Doing these recommended exercises, along with massage therapy, can produce better results within a quicker time frame.
Since athletes are always pushing and moving, there is always possibility for injury to occur with the intensity that they put their bodies through.
Every muscle has a particular function and works together within a certain group of muscles to get the job done. And thanks to Isaac Newton, we know that with every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Muscles work pretty much the same way the rest of the world does in that sense. It’s like a constant game of tug-of-war.
Sometimes that tug-of-war has unfair advantages. Unfortunately, when it comes to muscles, there are no winners; more likely injuries. Muscles that were never intended to take on the majority of the load will now compensate for the weakened or injured ones that perform similar actions.
When this happens, the opposing muscles not involved directly with the injury will pull and cause even greater strain on those still-functioning ones in the affected area. Even the muscles that overcompensate when necessary will now be more likely to become injured in the process.
It is important to listen to the pain signals that the body is producing when a muscle feels like it’s being pushed to the limit. If the pain is ignored and the muscle is injured, it can mean some serious recovery time for the athlete. It is always best to consult a doctor for the best plan of treatment and recovery.
Like with any injury, caution should be used when treatment is applied. The method that most experts agree to work in the immediate aftermath of an injury is RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation).
When an injury is in an acute phase, typically within the first three days of its occurrence, rest and care from a medical professional is vital for the best possible outcome. When diagnostics have been given and a plan of treatment is placed in action, massage may be very beneficial to both the recovery phase and prevention of future injuries.
Massage after an injury will help to speed up the body’s natural healing process. After the inflammatory responses have subsided following an initial injury, then massage can help to bring circulation to areas where blood flow may still be restricted.
When blood is channeled directly to the injury site through massage, oxygen and vital nutrients involved in aiding restoration are able to be maximized for quicker recovery times with better results. Adhesive scar tissue will be broken down as well, which will mean better range of motion and less restriction.
These benefits, along with relaxing overexerted or tight muscles, will help ease tension on any of the surrounding musculature as well.
Upon permission from a physician, massage is recommended to bring about a more complete healing process for sports-related injuries. Massage, while considered soothing and relaxing for most, can be an integral part in recovery.
David Reece is a sports massage therapist at Intuitive Massage & Wellness in Sebring. Call 402-2208 or visit www.intuitivemassageinc.com.