Jason Stobbs, experienced Sports Therapist, has worked with athletes at the top of their game!
Working at London Olympics 2012 and IAAF World Athletics Championships 2017, Jason gained experience to supplement his regular work with many of the North East’s top athletes.
Many people who are beginning to take their training a little more seriously, and who are looking to beat their personal bests, recognise that they need to minimise the amount of training they miss through injury and that recovery from training is an important part of the overall training effect.
How can sports massage help with injury prevention and recovery from training?
There are quite a few benefits of receiving sports massages on a regular basis within a training program; one of the benefits is suppressing the accumulation of general aches and pains that build up over time during an intense training program. Massage can also stretch muscles, tendons and fascia and can stretch tissues that can’t be stretched by other methods. Another benefit of massage is the breaking down of scar tissue that might be present in soft tissues such as muscles, tendons and ligaments from past injuries. This can cause tension and inflexibility which may lead to local or referred problems.
What should an athlete expect when receiving a massage for the first time?
The basic process for a sports massage is firstly the massage will need to be booked with the therapist, via the usual methods of phone, SMS, email or online booking. A lot of therapists have websites and information on the internet which can be viewed. I would however advice that you make the choice of therapist off a recommendation from others if this is possible. Knowing a therapist is good and will work well for you is much better than taking a risk of not knowing what a therapist is like before hand.
When the actual massage takes place if it is the first one a short consultation period will have to be carried out. This is a very important part, it will usually involve filling in a short form with contact details and medical details, questions will be asked about past and present activities and injuries. This will also highlight any contraindications or reasons why the massage should not take place.
The therapist will then ask the client to get changed and remove any clothing required and should provide towels to maintain the client’s modesty at all times. The therapist will then begin the massage by applying a lubricant; the main ones used are oils, creams and balms. The therapist should talk the client through the whole treatment, especially if it’s a first treatment. Anytime the client may feel uncomfortable or in too much discomfort they should make the therapist aware straight away.
There are several different types of sports massage techniques, what are they and where are they appropriate in terms of a training and racing program?
The main techniques used in massage are: superficial stroking (Effleurage). This is a gentle stroking movement applied with the whole hand, using a smooth, flowing and rhythmical action. This is the first basic technique and should be used at the start of the treatment to spread the oil, warm the area, relax the muscles and client.
Kneading (Petrissage) is usually applied with both hands in a rhythmical way; the kneading action tends to create movement between muscle bands so improving elasticity. Deep friction is applied with the pads of the thumb or fingers; it is applied only on local problem areas such as scar tissue and hard bands of muscle which are the result of overuse and injuries.
Percussion (Tapotement) is a technique using both hands alternately, working very quickly and rhythmically. This technique is not relaxing; on the contrary it is used to stimulate muscles and should only really be used if preparing the muscles for competition.
There are other techniques used but the ones I have outlined above are the main ones most therapists use and ones you will come across when receiving a massage.
So, if someone was new to sports massage and was unsure about how long they should ask for, how frequently they should get massage, which areas to focus on and what techniques they should ask for what would you recommend?
The top athletes I treat tend to require massages on a weekly basis. For actual time of treatment it all depends on what is required but I usually take 30-45 minutes for a general maintenance massage, but if more work is required it may take up to an hour. A therapist should always listen to the client for what they require but will be able to pick out tight areas and working on these will prevent any injuries occurring in the future, which is the main aim of getting regular massages. It is important to inform the therapist of any major competitions that may be coming up in the near future so the massage can be catered exactly to the athletes needs and so it won’t affect the athletes performance/ training.
Lastly, what are the going rates for sports massage?
Prices for massage treatments can vary like most things, especially depending on what area you live in. Typically though you should expect to pay anything from £20-£50 depending on the length of the massage and if the therapist is mobile which will take in travelling costs.