Recently massage is being widely used in various sports like Football, Tennis, Test Cricket, Hockey etc. These games are extensively played throughout the year with large amount of professionalism and competitiveness in them. Sports scientists therefore are always concerned to introduce various interventions by which the sports personalities can be kept fit and ready for consecutive encounters. Sports massage is one of the interventions, which is practiced on larger scales by various coaches and fitness specialists since the past few years, as it is believed to reduce the muscle soreness and provide psychological well-being to the athlete. Massage therapy can also help athletes to train better. Athletes train by taking a hard workout that makes their muscles sore and then taking easier workouts until the soreness disappears. Manual massage is a well established and effective therapy to relieve pain, swelling, muscle spasm and provide psychological well being to an individual. Various technical methods have been invented in the past few decades to make the massage intervention more effective. Massage is widely used in sports medicine and has much to offer to the injured athlete. It is considered to be a tool causing generalized relaxation of the fatigued body. It is a very old intervention, which was invented by the Chinese in 2598BC. This intervention gained more access with the Indian and Greek civilization and was brought in to the sporting world for the first time by the Greeks. The era of modern massage began in 1863 with the publication of a treatise systematically classifying each technique according to the body system. As stimulated scientific research and instrumentation improved, modern massage techniques developed rapidly. Many coaches in the past three Olympic meets practiced massage. A 30 minute massage 2 hours after a hard workout lessens next day muscle soreness and allows athletes to recover faster so they can perform more work and compete at a higher level. It can also be administered either immediately after exercise or 24-48 hours following exercise depending upon fatigue, stress and effect. It is suggested that massage is an effective treatment to prevent or alleviate muscle soreness that occurs after exercise. Types of Massage- Massage should always be in the direction towards the heart when the extremities are being massaged. This helps remove the waste products from the tissues by helping the lymphatic and venous flow. If massage is applied in the other direction then the valves in the venous system can get damaged. If massage is carried out on the trunk the direction of massage is unimportant. In all cases the massage strokes should be done both longitudinally and transversely. Vibration- This can be in the form of rocking or shaking. Rocking can involve the whole of the body or just a limb. It is done by placing the hands on the part that is to be rocked and move backwards and forwards. The hands can work in the same direction or opposite causing a wave like affect. Rocking can be relaxing if done slowly. Shaking is carried out on whole limb by holding the hand or wrist firmly, stretching and then moving it up and down or from side to side over a short distance. It can help to loosen joints and relax or arouse the client. Effleurage- Skin is stroked gently with the whole hand or the palm. The action is smooth and constant with long strokes. The hand is kept in constant contact with the skin with the pressure applied in the direction of the heart and a gentle stroke back to the start of the action. One or two hands can be used. Effleurage can be carried out by one palm, bent at the wrist and with a straight arm. The little finger leads. The palm can be supported or more pressure can be applied by placing the other palm on the top. It can also be done in a V-shape, with the limb or area of massage between the thumb and the first finger of the hands. During leg massage the leading hand should be on the outside of the leg. Longitudinal and transverse lengths of the muscle can be massaged. Petrissage- This is a whole group of hand movements, working in a rhythmical way. The two hands work in opposite directions. The hands move alternatively in concentric inward circles, confirming to the muscle contours. The muscle is grasped and pressure is applied at the top of the stroke and released at the bottom. The technique can be applied with tips of the thumb and fingers to small areas. It is important in all cases to maintain a rhythm as it will help the individual to relax. Tapotoment- Tapotoment is used to increase awareness and to stimulate. It is done by rapidly striking the body with alternate hands. It can be done through clothing at the end of massage particularly if deep relaxing techniques have been used. The action arises from the elbows with the wrists being relaxed. It is done on the opposite side of the body to where the masseur is standing. It can be done in clapping fashion or by hacking fashion. In the clapping fashion the hands are bent slightly to make a shallow cup shape. As the hands hit the body the air is trapped and makes a hollow sound, not a slapping sound. Hacking fashion is performed by using the outside (the ulnar) of the hand, with the fingers slightly out of line, and the wrists loose. Compression- This is when pressure is applied to the muscles. It can be painful for the client as it stretches the muscle. It is important that the masseur uses his/her centre of gravity in order to apply it. Bending knees lowers the centre of gravity. This technique is mainly used at selected regions of stress. Direct pressure is applied usually using static compressions, applying using the thumb, fingers, knuckles, elbows or hand. It is applied directly to the muscles or tendons but not in to meridians (it is not acupressure). The main function is to loosen congestion within the tissues and relax hypertonated muscle. Dermal Lifting- Lifting the skin away from underlying tissue can break down adhesions. It can be done by skin rolling or skin shaking. Benefits of massage therapy- Massage is one of those interventions which is considered to provide physiological and psychological well being to an individual. Mechanical effects are thought to be friction warming, pumping circulation, stretching of soft tissue, breaking scar tissue and fibrous adhesions, increasing microcirculation, enzyme release, increasing tissue elasticity and improving tissue elasticity. Various advantages of massage therapy have been suggested such as – Deep relaxation and stress reduction, Relief of muscle tension and stiffness, Reduced muscle spasm and tension (Neuromuscular massage, often prescribed for injuries and conditions of pain, works at softening the muscles so that the therapist can move in more deeply to break up adhesions. This allows muscles to become really elastic, the way they should be. The body then may be freed of spasm and pain), Relief from entrapment of nerves in muscle, Greater joint flexibility and range of motion, Increased ease and efficiency of movement, Promoted deeper and easier breathing, Better circulation of both blood and lymph fluids, Reduced blood pressure, Relief of tension related or eye-strain headaches Healthier, better nourished skin, Improved posture, Faster healing from pulled muscles and sprained ligaments, Reduces pain, swelling, and formation of scar tissue following injury, General health maintenance, Removal of waste products and better cell nutrition and Deactivation of trigger points and faster healing of injuries. Contraindications of Massage therapy- Immediate injury, Deep vein thrombosis, Tumours, Viral infections, Flu like symptoms, Varicose veins, Brittle bones, open lacerations and bruises. Sports massage has started proving important in the modern day sport. With various researches in the future, it can come out as a vital intervention for various competitive sports. In India, understanding of massage therapy still needs to be studied and brought in to business.
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