You don’t have to be an athlete to benefit from sports massage! If you’re looking for sports massage in London, read on. We ask our talented therapist Emmanuel about the benefits of sports massage, and who it’s suitable for.
Who is sports massage for?
Sports massage for office workers
Despite its sporty name, I find sports massage is hugely beneficial for all kinds of people. In fact, many of my clients are office workers in London. They have quite a sedentary lifestyle. Office workers (or, more commonly now, ‘home office’ workers) build up a lot of muscle tension. This is largely due to holding postures for long periods of time. Bodies are designed to move, and prolonged stillness will cause problems.
Tension and muscle knots can lead to back, neck, shoulder and arm pain. It’s easy to hold tension in the shoulders without realising. And we know the brain will prioritise vision as your primary sense. This means your body will make tiny adjustments to get the best visual input, at the expense of your posture.
Research shows that neck and shoulder pain is common in desk workers. In one study, over half of computer users report neck and shoulder pain.
Add this to the repetitive activity of using a keyboard and mouse, and it’s not surprising that so many people have desk-related pain!
Sports massage can really alleviate many of these pains that can build up. Deep tissue work can address the muscles of the shoulder and neck, such as the rotator cuff and trapezius where knots are commonly found.
Immobility doesn’t just affect the muscles though. Fascia is a web of connective tissue that runs through and between muscles, allowing frictionless movement. Immobility or injury can damage fascia, causing it to stick rather than slide. I use a technique called ‘myofascial release’, which helps to restore smooth movement and function.
So anyone who finds they are achy at the end of a long working day is likely to benefit from a sports massage.
Sports massage for sports people
However, perhaps you are someone who takes part in regular sport or exercise, whether as an amateur or at an elite level. Can sports massage be useful for you? Absolutely!
We all develop habitual movement patterns. Ever noticed how you can often recognise someone just from the way they walk? Our bodies adopt particular ways of moving, adapting around previous areas of strain, injury or weakness. This is especially true if your sport tends to be one-sided, such as tennis or golf. The focus on one side can lead to an imbalance in the way your body recruits muscles for movement or posture. As we repeat these patterns, especially at high intensity, strains can develop.
A good massage therapist can look at your movement to understand where there may be problem areas. I help a lot of runners this way. Understanding where the stress passes through a body during running allows me to identify the tissues that need lengthening or strengthening. This can help prevent common runner’s injuries such as patellar or Achilles tendinopathy, hamstring strains and foot pain (plantar fasciopathy).
Sports massage can help to alleviate such strains and imbalances.
So if you work hard or play hard in London, sports massage is going to help you do both better!
What does sports massage do?
Massage can mimic movement in muscles (wow, that’s a lot of ‘M’s!) Muscles that don’t move much can feel tense, tight or knotty. A good sports massage is magical at reducing these feelings. Evidence shows massage can provide pain relief and increase feelings of wellbeing.
By targeting specific areas, deep massage can relieve stiffness, tension and spasm. This then improves mobility and flexibility of joints.
I also use assisted stretching. Here, I carefully apply a stretch while you relax. This allows you to achieve a deeper stretch than would be possible alone. This technique activates the special nerve endings in the muscle belly (‘spindles’) and in the tendons (‘Golgi tendon organs’). Feedback from these nerve endings encourages the brain to reset the muscle, altering it to a more relaxed position at rest. This is a great way to enhance flexibility.
Is sports massage painful?
I get asked this question a lot! It’s a common myth that sports massage needs to be painful to be effective. Deep work doesn’t mean pain. In fact, it’s generally counterproductive, as pain causes people to tense up.
Sports massage isn’t the right choice if you’re looking for a relaxing, spa-style treatment. This is a results-focused therapy. I aim to enhance function and flexibility quickly and effectively.
There are different kinds of pain. Most of my clients find that a good sports massage produces a ‘pleasant’ or ‘relieving’ pain – a sense of strong stimulation and relief. If a massage gives you an unpleasant sensation, it’s probably not a good massage.
As I sometimes say to my clients, it’s not “No pain, no gain”, but rather “No gain with pain”!
What should I expect?
In your first session, we’ll talk about the reason for your visit and what you’re aiming to achieve from treatment. I’ll ask you some questions about your health and lifestyle. If I think there’s a problem I can’t treat, I’ll always refer you on, so you’re in safe hands.
It’s important for me to be able to see and feel how well your body is moving. Seeing how you move is useful because it gives me an idea about how your body has made adaptations, and which areas might need particular attention.
Your comfort is important to me. A good massage requires skin contact, but I provide a cover and never expose more body areas than absolutely necessary. I will always explain what I’m doing, and make sure you’re happy for me to continue. If you prefer to have a companion with you, that’s fine – just mention it when booking.
Sports massage is a comprehensive treatment that uses different strokes and techniques to give you the best outcome.
I use a variety of methods, which I tailor to fit your needs best. These include:
Muscle Energy Technique – this technique makes use of a reflex reaction. I will ask you to repeatedly contract a muscle against my resistance. The action causes the nervous system to tell the muscle to relax. It’s great for muscle lengthening and helping muscles slide against each other smoothly, restoring good function.
Soft Tissue Release – this is a specialised form of stretching that can be applied actively or passively. I’ll work with you, adding pressure to provide an enhanced stretch. This stretch can target a broad group of muscles or a specific area. It’s good for relieving chronic tissue congestion, increasing muscle length and improving elasticity.
Cupping – this additional treatment uses the placement of cups at specific points on the body. The cups provide a gentle suction effect. This stimulates the flow of blood and lymph in the area. There’s a growing body of evidence for its benefits, including reducing inflammation and alleviating pain. You may have some local red or purplish marks, but they won’t last more than a few days. It can be a great addition to massage for easing aches and pains.
Emmanuel has been working in sports massage for over ten years. In that time, he’s completed a level 5 diploma in Sports and Remedial Massage, and worked with elite athletes, including at Saracen’s Rugby Club and London World Athletics.
I discovered Emmanuel when I was suffering from chronic neck and shoulder pain due to long hours at the computer and driving. His gentle, respectful manner and calm assurance put me at ease as he went about alleviating my symptoms. I have been back to him many times over the years for various conditions and he always works his magic. I have recommended him to many people, all of whom have become fans.”– Cassie