Young athletes are working harder to perform at higher levels and this is leading to a significant increase in serious injuries. Young, developing bodies differ from adults in many ways. For example, as children grow, their muscles are constantly being stretched. Overstretching muscles can result in serious damage.
Long bones grow more rapidly than the muscle tissue, resulting in a pull on the periosteum (the protective bone covering — a very pain-sensitive structure). This causes growing pains. Massage can help by gently lengthening the muscles, stretching the connective tissue and providing symptomatic relief of pain. Conditions such as Osgood Schlatter’s and Sever’s Disease are common in active sport participants.
There are many potential benefits from Therapeutic Sports Massage. Since tight muscles are more vulnerable to injury, and massaging muscles reduces muscle tension, it is believed that regular therapeutic massage will reduce the incidence of injury. Besides the physical benefits, there are also other potential areas of improvement. Research shows that massage can improve symptoms of anxiety and depression, both of which seem to be occurring more frequently in the paediatric population. Anxiety related to performance, in particular, can be an issue for young athletes. As an added bonus, therapeutic massage has also been shown to improve academic performance and sleep.
Massage therapy is believed to keep muscles healthy by improving circulation of both blood and lymph. As you might know, good blood flow increases the supply of oxygen to the athlete’s tissues (for fuel and repairs) and removes excess waste products. Likewise, the lymphatic system bathes and maintains the health of the cells, draining away the by-products of damage and repair. Good circulation is essential for bone growth, body repairs and overall health of all body tissues, and therapeutic massage enhances and improves the physical health of young athletes by positively affecting the nervous, circulatory and musculoskeletal systems.
When muscles are functioning properly, the likelihood of sprains, strains and repetitive motion injuries is significantly reduced. In cases of acute or chronic injury, massage therapists work collaboratively with coaches, parents, chiropractors, exercise physiologists and other medical professionals, to facilitate recovery and help restore athletes to optimum condition.
How often should a young athlete receive a massage?
It is recommended that a young athlete have a quality remedial massage at least once a month. A maintenance program, including a massage before a rest day, and dealing with individual issues as they arise, will keep the young athlete free from problems building up over time.
Can massage help in injury prevention?
Massage helps prevent injuries by assisting the body to stay supple, de-stressed and in better condition. As there is less tension in highly used muscle groups they react better to the stresses of physical sports activities.
Can massage be used in conjunction with chiropractic adjustments?
The chiropractors in our clinic routinely recommend therapeutic massage for their clients. They report that regular massage, along with a good core and excellent posture, helps their clients to maintain their adjustments, and require less checkups.
Can massage speed up injury recovery?
Always seek first advice from your primary healthcare practitioner (Chiropractor or GP) who can check whether there are hairline fractures or spinal alignment problems, or a severe inflammation or contusion (bleeding after an injury to the muscle). Once cleared, massage will help with reducing inflammation and help repair the damaged muscle fibres. In conjunction with a safe static stretching program, recovery will be quicker and more effective.