Sports Massage: Benefits, Types & Techniques
Active military personnel and veterans can benefit from massage therapy. Massage is not just for regular relaxation and spa treatments, contrary to what some might believe. The relaxation aspect of massage is just one aspect of what makes it a beneficial form of therapy for many patients. There are actually a large number of benefits to receiving massage therapy from someone who has been professionally trained in rehabilitative methods. The benefits come in both physical and mental forms. Athletes have been receiving benefits through sports massage. Military troops are often asked to perform athletic and physical tasks, so it is only natural that sports massage therapies can be helpful to them as well.
With sports massage, the athlete can achieve peak performance, reduce and prevent injuries, and get assistance with the recovery of any injuries that occur.
Pre-& Post-Event Massages
A pre-event massage, which is performed about a half hour before the event, would include friction for warming up muscles, compression to improve muscle circulation, and range-of-motion for joints. Post-event massage is for recovery, soreness, and cramping, as well as circulation and range-of-motion. Compressive effleurage, which is employed to calm the nervous system, compression to spread muscle fibers, stretching and petrissage for muscle tension, and reciprocal inhibition, which helps to reduce cramps, are all special techniques included in post-event massage.
Maintenance massage is often used between events as part of furthering the athlete’s overall wellness. This aims to help the athlete further develop their flexibility, strength, motor coordination, improve posture, biomechanics, reduce patterns of stress, break up excess scar tissue, and aid the healing process of existing injuries. Patients who participate in athletic or military activities should seek out trained professionals who understand the particular category of sports massage in order to receive the proper care.
Rehabilitation massage is an adjunct therapy to medical care, and, to put it simply, it can reduce pain and stress as well as speed the healing process. The types of techniques used include trigger point massage, cross-fiber friction, lymphatic drainage, effleurage, neuromuscular therapy, and compression. The treatment plan is modified based on the activity, injury, and patient in order to provide the most effective form of customized care.1
Massage Therapy in the Military
Even if injuries do not occur on the battlefield, troops can suffer from musculoskeletal complaints and accidents. One of the common uses of massage is pain relief. More than half of the pain complaints are about a feeling of discomfort located in the lower back, as well as nonradicular pain in the extremities, according to a recent study. Traditional treatment options have included pain medications, such as opioids and NSAIDs, and surgical procedures.
Alternative therapy holds the promise of drug-free assistance, however, without the side effects and risks which are associated with patients who take medications and undergo surgical procedures. Chiropractic manipulation, acupuncture, and dietary supplements (glucosamine/chondroitin) are some of the alternative therapy options that soldiers have sought, in addition to therapeutic massage. Massage is the most common alternative therapy offered, according to the study. Nonbattle-related injuries (NBIs), are a serious factor and they take a toll on the strength of the whole troop in modern warfare.2
The Use of Massage Therapy Beyond Physical Rehabilitation
Massage therapists may not only assist with the physical injuries of the troops. But they can also work with their military patients in managing the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) emotional scars. This form of mental trauma actually does short-circuit neurons’ routes and changes how the brain functions. This results in PTSD as well as other forms of mental scarring. PTSD might also be referred to other names such as “shell shock”, “battle fatigue” and “soldier’s heart”. Despite some of its alternate names, PTSD is not something only soldiers experience. Even those who have never set foot on a battlefield might experience PTSD due to other reasons.
The effects from the emotional scars of PTSD could affect the rest of the patient’s life. Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) occurs soon after the traumatic event, with symptoms of helplessness, horror, and fear. Patients may be hyperaroused or hypervigilant and practice avoidance. Over time, PTSD can develop and intensify symptoms, including emotional numbing, dissociation, relationship troubles, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and nightmares or flashbacks.
Massage can help veterans and troops with managing their PTSD, in conjunction with other professional care. Chair massage and clothed massage may be the first step in massage treatment. For some, Reiki may be the first option, if the patient is not yet ready to be touched. Each person’s process of managing their PTSD is different. Healthcare professionals should understand that some need more time than others.3 Massage therapy is offered to wounded warriors through organizations such as CAUSE (Comfort for America’s Uniformed Services).4 Many massage clinics offer military discounts. Sometimes free massages are available, such as on Veterans’ Day.5
Find out information regarding chiropractic treatment in the military.