Massage and Sports Therapy
Over the course of this year’s Edinburgh Festival I was fortunate to have several professional athletes and physical performers grace my massage table, most looking for a remedial sports therapy that would help them perform during their demanding schedules. These clients are athletes who push their bodies to the limit on a daily basis, embodying a dedication that results in awe-inspiring performances but which leaves them with tense, strained muscles and sometimes injuries. It was the perfect opportunity to introduce some of them to the discipline of Russian Sports Massage, which is a field of sports therapy in which I have a particular expertise and passion.
The Difference Between Sports Massage and Russian Sports Massage
As sports therapy, even as massage disciplines, Russian Sports Massage and traditional sports massage share some similarities. They are both strictly physiological disciplines that are designed to renew and restore tissue through the vigorous application of manual pressure. Traditional sports massage can be traced back several thousands years, it’s roots in the gladiatorial combat of the Greeks and Romans, and over recent decades the term ‘sports massage’ has become associated with a form of massage that utilises deep tissue and Swedish massage techniques. These modalities are adapted to specifically target the kind of stress and damage caused by intense physical activities.
Russian sports massage has the same goal, and even uses some of the same deep tissue techniques. Particular to Russian Sports Massage is the use of friction to generate deep heat, and the use of vibration to mobilise metabolic waste and flush it out of the system. Stretching is common to both, but Russian sports massage also incorporates Range of Motion exercises and a distinctive ‘percussion’ (slapping) technique that loosen muscular adhesions. Effleurage and petrissage techniques, both of which involve gentle strokes that mobilise toxins and loosen muscles, are also used in both forms of massage, but Russian sports massage differs from traditional sports massage in it’s focus on the lymphatic system.
The Benefits of Russian Sports Massage
Russian sports massage is developing a reputation as a form of sports therapy that is less invasive than other therapeutic massage disciplines. Hard stretches and painful manipulations are favoured less compared to effleurage and petrissage techniques that could be considered ‘softer’ but which have a powerful impact on the body’s nervous system. Russian sports massage is in fact a high impact sports therapy, and is particularly suited to athletes because athletes have an immune system robust enough to endure rapid repair and release of metabolic waste.
Key benefits of Russian sports massage include:
- Increased blood and lymphatic flow
- Decreased abnormal soft tissue deposits
- Decreased edema
- Increased metabolism
- Increased range of motion
- Decreased muscle tension
- Increased speed of tissue regeneration
- Decreased muscle fatigue
Depending upon the individual client, the application of Russian sports massage as a sports therapy can be used to either stimulate or sedate the nervous system. It is a highly efficacious sports therapy that can lead to rapid repair of damaged tissue, enhanced performance and increased stamina.