Remedial massage & MLD
Massage should play an important part everyone’s life regardless whether they are injured or not. Massage has many well documented benefits physically, physiologically and psychologically and ideally should be approached as preventative therapy rather than a curative one. It is important for the recipient of the massage to be aware of the expectations of the treatment and to communicate with the therapist.
The general benefits of massage include:
– Increasing the blood supply and nutrition to your muscles.
– Helping your muscles recover more quickly from exertion and fatigue.
– Relaxing your muscles, effectively reducing spasms, tension and cramping.
– Stretching your connective tissue.
– Reducing and breaking down adhesions (knots) and fibrosis.
– Helping to re-establish your proper muscular tone.
– Reducing your muscle and soft tissue pain.
– Supporting increased work capacity and encouraging your metabolism.
– Helping to prevent muscular atrophy (wasting from injury and paralysis)
Deep Tissue / Sports Massage
The basic objective of this modality is to:
– Maintain the body generally in better condition.
– Prevent injuries and loss of mobility.
– Cure and restore mobility to injured muscle tissue.
– Boost performance.
– Extend the overall life of your sporting career.
Points of note:
The day after a deep massage you may be a little sore especially if you are not used to it. This may last a couple of days or more depending on the individual.
Don’t have a massage the day before an important competition unless you are sure it works for you. Leave a day or so to recover and then reap the benefits.
Physical effects are:
Pumping – The stroking movements in massage suck fluid through blood vessels and lymph vessels. By increasing the pressure in front of the stroke, a vacuum is created behind. This is especially important in tight or damaged muscle tissue as a tight muscle will squeeze blood out like a sponge, depriving the tissues of vital nutrients and energy to repair.
Increased tissue permeability – Deep massage causes the pores in tissue membranes to open, enabling fluids and nutrients to pass through. This helps remove waste products such as lactic acid and encourage the muscles to take up oxygen and nutrients which help them recover quicker.
Stretching – Massage can stretch tissues that could not be stretched in the usual methods. Bundles of muscle fibres are stretched lengthwise as well as sideways. Massage can also stretch the sheath or fascia that surrounds the muscle, so releasing any tension or pressure build up.
Cause scar tissue to soften – Scar tissue is the result of previous injuries or trauma and can effect muscle, tendons and ligaments. This can lead to inflexible tissues that are prone to injury and pain.
Improve tissue elasticity – Hard training can make tissues hard and inelastic. This is one reason why hard training may not result in improvements. Massage helps reverse this by stretching the tissues.
Opens micro-circulation – Massage does increase blood flow to tissues, but so does exercise. What massage also does is open or dilate the blood vessels and by stretching them this enables nutrients to pass through more easily.
Physiological effects are:
Pain reduction – Tension and waste products in muscles can often cause pain. Massage helps reduce this in many ways including releasing the bodies endorphins.
Relaxation – Muscles relax through heat generated, circulation and stretching. Mechanoreceptors which sense touch, pressure, tissue length and warmth are stimulated causing a reflex relaxation.
Psychological effects are:
Anxiety reduction – through the effects mentioned above relaxation is induced and so reduces anxiety levels. Particularly effective for individuals who lead highly stressful lives.
Invigorating – the brisk movements of massage invigorate the recipient, inducing a feeling of well being.
Manual Lymphatic Drainage
MLD is an essential component to massage and the treatment of both chronic and acute conditions. It can be used for the relief of swelling (oedema), greater oxygenation of tissues and the removal of waste.
The lymphatic system is a secondary pathway back to the heart that runs parallel to the blood system. However, in contrast to blood circulation that has the heart at it’s core, lymphatic circulation is a system with slow rhythm, low velocity and low pressure that relies to a great extent on movement and muscle condition.
Basically, the lymphatic system’s job is to pick up what the blood system leaves behind. In effect, acting as an overflow for water and excess substances at a cellular level. It transports pathogenic substances (germs, toxins etc) and other components in it’s pathway to lymphatic nodes which act as purification centres. If the lymphatic system did not recover this protein-rich liquid the body would develop major systemic oedema and auto-intoxication.
MLD has a number of effects on the body – by activating lymph function and circulation as well as indirectly stimulating fluid circulation, lymphatic drainage reduces oedema. The passage of lymph in the lymph nodes stimulates the immune system and the light rhythmic stimulation of the skin brings about muscle relaxant effects. In addition, modern lifestyles, elevated stress and bad diet are major culprits in a sluggish lymphatic system that MLD can assist in alleviating.
Some of the conditions that have been effectively treated by MLD include:
– pre-menstrual breast pain
– skin conditions – acne and inflammation