Sports massage is all about optimizing muscle, ligament, joint and tendon health so as to prevent sport related injuries or promote the healing of an already existing injury. It is commonly applied during training, before or after a sporting event. Therapists who perform sports massages are usually well-trained in a variety massage therapy techniques that includes stretching techniques that can be utilized in therapy sessions. Any Manchester athlete or resident who takes part in sports should ask his or her therapist on the massage techniques that they are trained on. Below is a look at the various techniques used for sports massage in Manchester.

Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) stretching is considered among the most effective ways of increasing range of motion and usually leads to improved flexibility. Applying this technique, a massage therapist gently stretches an athlete’s muscle to its end point for about ten seconds. Then, the athlete contracts that particular muscle against resistance via pushing against the therapist’s hand, holding the position for about six seconds. As soon as the muscle is relaxed, the therapist then passively stretches it again, setting it at a further position that the initial range of motion allowed. PNF therapy is suitable for large muscle groups such as quadriceps, adductors and hamstrings, all which are muscles found on inner thighs.

Active isolated stretching (AIS) is among of the most commonly applied methods used in sports massage to increase range of motion. In the course of the session, the therapist gently pushes an athlete’s muscles just above their normal motion range, holding this stretching position for about two seconds. The brief stretch allowed that particular muscle to stretch without triggering a stretch reflex that will contract its antagonist muscle. The stretch is repeated a number of times for every targeted muscle. The protocol of AIS involves over 170 different stretches targeting all the body’s muscle groups, including the difficult to palpate ones like the psoas. An athlete’s therapist will choose the most appropriate one in accordance to his or her evaluation and symptoms.

Another technique in sports massage is the myofascial release therapy. This is meant to expand the fascia, which is the fibrous tissue surrounding an athlete’s muscles, organs and bones in a single continuous covering of connective tissue. Restrictions within the fascia that may have occurred due to development of scar tissues or injury are broken down by the therapist through application of direct force on the tissue and then gradually stretching it. The pressure applied is slowly raised until the therapist reaches the deep-tissue layers. This kind of therapy is applied to loosen the fascia that extends through an athlete’s entire body.

Passive soft tissue release is another technique applied to stretch muscles and their surrounding fascia, as well as the tendons attaching the muscles to bones. During this therapy, the therapist leaves the athlete’s muscle in a relaxed position. To achieve this, the therapist places someone’s limbs in a way that the muscle is shortened.

Before starting the above techniques for sports massage in Manchester, an athlete is required to complete a short questionnaire stating any medical problems and allergies. Should the athlete feel that massage is not suitable, he or she should inform the therapist.