Difference between general massage and sports massage
NEUROMUSCULAR TECHNIQUES & SOFT TISSUE MASSAGE
Sports Massage targets soft tissue to decrease tension and increase efficiency, with less focus on the overall relaxation of body as a whole. Sports massage works at a physical and physiological level, removing restrictions and reducing tension within the muscle, lengthening and strengthening fibres to get back to and, maintain, healthy functioning.
The aim of Sports Massage is to improve the effectiveness of the muscle working to remove any physical or physiological barrier which is inhibiting the muscle to function, repair, or strengthen. Sports Massages uses neuromuscular and soft tissue techniques as well as general ‘stroking’ techniques used in more general massage to achieve its aims. Muscles’ functional barriers can occur at a physical (adhesions, scar tissue) or physiological (neurological dysfunction) level. The type of technique for the affected muscle area(s) is decided after a postural and functional movement assessment. These techniques are explained more below.
Neuromuscular techniques work at a neurological level, stimulating the nervous system to ‘fire’ neurons to enable a release of tension in the muscle fibres.
Muscle Energy Techniques encourages the muscle to relax by stimulating neurons to initiate a stretch in the muscle. Using the contraction of either the targeted muscle (Post Isometric Relaxation) or the opposing muscle (Reciprocal Inhibition) we stimulate a stretch reaction, releasing tension on relaxation of the muscle
Trigger Point technique involves the application of pressure to sensitive points in a tense (hypertonic) muscle. Pressure is held and on release, flushes blood to the targeted area causing the muscle to relax.
In finding a point of tension in the targeted muscle, we move the muscle into a position of ease by taking it into a shortened position. At a neurological level the muscle is taken off the point of ‘threat’ stimulating a relaxation of the muscle. Holding that position, we allow the muscle to settle and reset to a position of “normal” length.
Corrective Friction focuses on the physical restrictions to movement, breaking down adhesions and scar tissue within the muscle fibres. Using Soft Tissue Friction, we apply pressure to the restricted muscle area and move the muscle through its range of movement either passively or actively. Working across the muscle fibres, Friction Transverse technique breaks muscle fibre bonds ready to be correctly realigned by soft tissue techniques of effleurage and petrissage.
Connective tissue is layers of fascia which surrounds the musculoskeletal system and envelops all soft tissue; every muscle fibre, muscle unit, connecting tendons and bone. It enables us to adapt to movement and has a great impact on our postural alignment, our ability to manage everyday activities, and our general physical health. The layers of fascia can become tight and fixed in a position if sedentary. Connective Tissue techniques stretch out the fascia tissue, breaking bonds and loosening soft tissue providing greater mobility.
SOFT TISSUE MASSAGE
In between Corrective Friction and Neuromuscular Techniques, we use soft tissue methods of Effleurage and Petrissage, used in general massage, to realign fibres, increase local circulation to the effected area. Soft tissue massage aids the recovery and repair of muscles by flushing the fibres with nutrients, removing of waste, and stimulating the parasympathetic system encouraging the muscles to relax.
Meet Sophie Barrett MSc, BA (Hons), Dip, CertHE
I am a qualified Counselling Psychotherapist, accredited member of the British Association for Counsellors and Psychotherapists (BACP). As an accredited member I am recognise as having achieved a high standard of knowledge, experience and development in counselling and psychotherapy through my accredited MSc qualification as well as a through a separate rigorous application and assessment process within the BACP. As a BACP accredited member I receive supervision when in practice and am bound by the BACP Ethical Framework.
I am a qualified Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) registered Pilates andPre and Postnatal Pilates instructor and a Level 4 Sports Massage Therapist with membership of the Association of Soft Tissue Therapists. REPS is an independent public register which recognises the qualifications and expertise of health-enhancing exercise instructors in the UK which provides a system of regulation for instructors and trainers to ensure that they meet the National Occupational Standards. All professionals on the Register are appropriately qualified and have the knowledge, competence and skills to perform their role effectively.