Patient should seek medical advice before starting any massage or exercise.
The first and foremost equipment, which is required for a massage is a lubricant. This enables smooth gliding of hands during massage. For this purpose, massage oils can be used or simple baby oil will also suffice. Care should be taken not to use too much oil, as it will cause lack of control during massage. Apart from a lubricant, the other equipment needed is a firm and flat surface to lie upon during massage.
Sports Massage Technique 1: Effleurage
Effleurage Massage is used to initiate massage and for even oil application. It also helps in warming up the tissues in order to prepare them for deep massages. Light strokes should be applied using the hand. The direction should always be upwards towards the heart, because this is the direction of the blood flow. Doing it the opposite way causes vein damage. After these strokes are done, the hands should be brought down while keeping them firmly on the skin without too much pressure. This whole movement should be repeated using gentle stroking techniques and covering as much area as possible. This technique should be repeated for 5 minutes while slowly increasing pressure on the up strokes.
Sports Massage Technique 2: Petrissage
Petrissage Massage is a kneading type of massage technique which helps in additional relaxing and warming up of the muscles. The palms or the knuckles are used in this massage technique. A firm, kneading pressure is applied using the hands. Half the muscle should be pulled towards you using the fingers of one hand and half the muscle should be pushed away using the thumb of the other hand. Then, the direction of the massage should be changed to reverse. Try to cover as much area as possible by working the hands up and down the muscle. This technique should be continued for about 5 minutes and can be alternated with the effleurage technique.
Sports Massage Technique 3 and 4: Stripping the Muscle
Stripping the Muscle is a common massage technique done to smooth out any knots or scar tissue present. Deep pressure should be applied using both thumbs at the center the muscle. This massage technique should be done slowly and deliberately in order to ‘feel’ the muscle underneath. It should be repeated 3 to 5 times in a row, alternating with petrissage for 5 minutes. For deeper pressure, a single thumb can be used along with a couple of fingers from the other hand. This massage should be appropriately deep and should not cause any pain to the athlete.
Sports Massage Technique 5 and 6: Circular Friction Massage and Trigger Point Massage
The thumb is used in a circular motion for massaging. This helps in breaking down the adhesions and scar tissue. Circular frictions and stripping techniques are used alternatively for deep massage of the muscle tissues. About 10 to 20 circular frictions should be applied at a time changing with stripping and petrissage techniques. If any lumps, knots or sensitive spots are felt, then constant and deep pressure should be applied to these points using the thumbs. A localized, sensitive point in the muscle is known as a trigger point. The pressure on the trigger point should be increased till it reaches a 7/10 on the pain scale (10 being painful). Pressure should be held until the pain decreases to 4/10 on the pain scale (about 5 seconds). Then the pressure should be increased again until it reaches 7/10 on the pain scale. Again continue holding the pressure till the pain decreases. Repeat this technique once more.
This massage technique is very grueling for the thumbs and it is vital that the thumbs are slightly flexed while applying pressure in order to prevent any damage to the joints.
The massage therapist can finish off by more petrissage techniques and finally with the effleurage technique again. The entire process should not exceed 30 minutes.
If the massage is done lightly, then massage therapy can be applied every day, but deeper massage techniques should be given a day’s time to allow the tissues to “recuperate.”
Sports massage is very beneficial in muscle strains by softening the stiffness and preventing scar tissue formation at the site of injury. It also helps in re-aligning the new healing fibers in the direction of the muscle fibers and helps in preventing re-injury.