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Can Sports Massage Therapy help recovery from injury?

Blog produced by Jason Dodd Clinic Manager, Sports Therapist and member of the Physiotherapy and Musculo-Skeletal Team at Bodylogics The Sports Therapy Clinic.

As a Sports Therapy Clinic we offer a wide range of services. Our most popular service is undoubtedly our Sports Massage Therapy treatment. With more and more people taking up sport in their spare time for the obvious health reasons, coupled with the added pressures of life from our working environments, Sports Massage Therapy has become a highly sought after service. We know the benefits of regular Sports Massage Therapy in helping to avoid injuries as it helps break down adhesion’s, improves circulation and helps with the release of specific hormones which help to relax the body, therefore reducing the tension that can sometimes lead to injury. BUT, what about when you are injured? Can Sports Massage Therapy help with the recovery process and can it also help speed up recovery?

Studies have shown that through massage during the treatment of injuries, patients have experienced a statistically significant improvement in function, reported less intense pain, and experienced a decrease in the quality of pain compared to those who received other interventions or none at all.  This study showed results as follows;

Of the 107 subjects who passed screening, 98 (92%) completed post-treatment tests and 91 (85%) completed follow-up tests. Statistically significant differences were noted after treatment and at follow-up. The comprehensive massage therapy group had improved function (mean RDQ score 1.54 v. 2.86-6.5, p < 0.001), less intense pain (mean PPI score 0.42 v. 1.18-1.75, p < 0.001) and a decrease in the quality of pain (mean PRI score 2.29 v. 4.55-7.71, p = 0.006) compared with the other 3 groups. Clinical significance was evident for the comprehensive massage therapy group and the soft-tissue manipulation group on the measure of function. At 1-month follow-up 63% of subjects in the comprehensive massage therapy group reported no pain as compared with 27% of the soft-tissue manipulation group, 14% of the remedial exercise group and 0% of the sham laser therapy group (see reference study here)

Studies have also shown that massage in the treatment of chronic lower back pain is very effective.  This study here concluded;

Massage was compared with an inert treatment (sham laser) in one study that showed that massage was superior, especially if given in combination with exercises and education. In the other seven studies, massage was compared with different active treatments. They showed that massage was inferior to manipulation and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation; massage was equal to corsets and exercises; and massage was superior to relaxation therapy, acupuncture, and self-care education. The beneficial effects of massage in patients with chronic LBP lasted at least 1 year after the end of the treatment. One study comparing two different techniques of massage concluded in favour of acupuncture massage over classic (Swedish) massage (see reference study here)

It is important to note with both these studies though that the massage was supported by a good exercise programme as well as patient education on the causes of lower back pain.

Then you have this 2018 study which concluded;

In recreational runners, a half-marathon results in fatigue symptoms lasting at least 24h. To restore subjective fatigue measures, the authors recommend CWI and MAS, as these recovery strategies are more effective than PAS, with ACT being even disadvantageous. However, runners must be aware that neither the use of ACT nor CWI or MAS had any beneficial effect on objective fatigue markers. (see reference study here)

Of important note here is that the evidence obtained from this study was purely based on a perceived recovery as opposed to biological recovery. Simply put, the effects of massage are again proven to have a psychological effect on the brain and central nervous system which ultimately leads to a reduction in stress and tension and therefore, theoretically, relaxing muscles to help reduce stiffness and soreness and therefore again, reducing the chances of injury.

In conclusion, there is evidence to suggest that Sports Massage Therapy can have a very good effect on the recovery time from injury. Although these studies primarily look at the effects on back pain, studies like this are often transferable to other areas of the body too. However, finding the right Sports Massage Therapist is of great importance. Pain and ‘deep’ massage are not always beneficial to injury recovery. The healing process of a muscle is very delicate, intense pressure and depth can actually aggravate injury and make the situation worse. Therefore, having a fully qualified Sports Therapist who understands how this process occurs will be vital in helping with your overall recovery.

How can Bodylogics help?

We are the leading Sports Therapy Clinic in North London, offering Sports MassagePhysiotherapy,OsteopathySports Rehabilitation and many more services, all of which are designed to get you back to being pain free and to enable you to get the best from your body.  Our Team are made up of specialists in different areas and we are confident we have a Team member who will be able to offer you the correct maintenance programme to keep you injury free or offer you the advice and treatment plan that will have you back to full fitness in the shortest time possible.  We do not cut corners, we offer genuine, true advice in order to give you the best chance of success.  We are proud of our reputation we have built and we are confident that you will share the thoughts of many others after visiting us.

To get in touch please see the information below and we look forward to welcoming you to Bodylogics The Sports Therapy Clinic in the near future.

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