What is a sports massage?

Today I had a patient ask me what a sports massage was and how it differed to what I, as an osteopath do, for my patients.

It sounds like an easy question to answer because osteopaths only help people with neck or back pain and ‘crack’ spines in weird and wonderful positions, right? Well, not exactly…

Osteopathy is much more than what was just described. Frustratingly, the problem is that the general public doesn’t fully understand the full scope of what it is that we do as primary healthcare professionals. Everybody knows what a chiropractor or physiotherapist is, but ask a group of people what an osteopath does and you will observe several shoulder shrugs and possibly some chin scratching too. If you are lucky, you may hear a story from a village elder that has been treated by an osteopath and still talks (two years later) about the loud ‘popping’ noises they heard emitting from their body as they were being wrapped up like a pretzel. But, that is not all that we do. Osteopaths don’t just consider the painful site and focus on that and its immediate surroundings, we are taught to think, why. Why did the pain occur? What happened to cause a negative change to the body? Where is it coming from? That is what we are taught and trained to do, look for the problem and not just treat the symptoms.

In my opinion, based upon my own experiences and what I have heard from other people, patients, friends and family, sports massage is a great therapy to alleviate aching muscles.

Muscles can ache after taking part in strenuous activity and may need some TLC to help them recover faster. By using massage techniques to flush out any metabolites from the afflicted areas and increase the blood flow back into the tissues that are lacking.

Sports massage is also a handy therapy to incorporate into any routine before embarking upon any strenuous activity, be it a marathon or a cup final. Having a sports massage up to 48 hours before an event will improve the circulation to the muscles, relax them and help you to perform at your highest level, whilst reducing the chance of injury and the need to then call an osteopath!