Sports Massage And The Stages Of Injury

Another form of massage therapy is sports massage, but don’t let the name fool you. Sports massage is usually indicated when there has been an injury to the body acquired during sports activity, but can apply to any activity that causes repetitive strain on the body. The most common injuries are strains and sprains, tendonitis, and inflammation. There are different stages to all injuries ranging between acute and chronic, and both have different effects on the body, and different methods of treatment.

The first stage of injury is called acute. This happens when the injury is new and usually will cause pain, inflammation, and decreased movement in the injured area. Massage therapy treatment in this first stage is generally a lot lighter due to the signs and symptoms. The massage therapists goal is to reduce the pain and inflammation by light pressure and possibly ice directly on the injured area. No home care is usually given other than elevate and ice the effected area. Usually the acute stage can last from a few weeks up to a few months depending on the severity.

The second stage of injury is the sub-acute stage. Here the client will find that the injury is not as painful and the inflammation is pretty much gone. Movement may still be restricted. The massage therapists goal in this stage is to decrease the rest of the inflammation and increase movement slowly. Pressure during the treatment increases and alternating hot and cold packs may be used to bring blood flow to the area so that it can heal quicker. If the client is comfortable with it, the therapist may also begin using trigger point therapy. Trigger points are little nodules in tight muscles that can refer pain from one area to another. When released the affected muscle loosens up and is less restricted. Home care may be given at this point in the form of light stretching as long as the client remains pain-free.

The last stage is the chronic stage. The pain and inflammation will be gone but extreme tension in the muscle and decreased movement of the effected area still remains. As long as the client is comfortable, the therapist will begin using deep pressure to help release tight muscles and, and trigger point therapy where it is indicated. Some therapists use stretches within their massage treatments and other prescribe it as home care. The goal in this stage is to increase the movement in the area and hopefully bring it back to its pre-injury health. Home care are usually stretches to help lengthen and increase movement of the affected area. In the chronic stage, heat can also be used to help soften a muscle before it is stretched.

In all massage treatments, all injuries, acute or chronic are treated this same way, most times the cause isn’t too much of a concern. Inflammation can occur in a marathon runner, the same as it can in someone working at a computer 8-9 hours a day. If you are not sure what type of treatment best suits you please ask your massage therapist.

I am constantly asked whether ice or heat is appropriate for an injury, and here is my advice. Use ice first. Using ice in moderation will do little harm if there is inflammation, but using heat will increase the inflammation and pain. Don’t use the ice pack for longer that 15-20 minutes at a time and continue every couple of hours. When in doubt use the acronym CBAN. COLD, BURNING, ACHING, NUMBNESS. When you feel the area is achy and becoming numb, this is indication that it is time to take off the ice. If you find that using ice is having no effect, then switch to heat.

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