What to Expect at your Sport Massage appointment
If you are new to sports massage this short guide will give you an idea of what to expect. If, after reading this, you still have unanswered questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch to ask, as we really want you to look forward to your appointments, and get the best out of them.
What should I wear?
The main part of your appointment will be your massage. During this, you are kept warm by having towels covering the body parts not being massaged. The therapist will need access to the muscles you need massaging. So having loose-fitting shorts and a back-fastening bra underneath your other clothes are ideal, as when you are on the couch, you remain comfortable whilst allowing the therapist access to your muscles along their entire length.
Before starting the massage, the therapist will want to check your natural posture. This is to assess any imbalances which indicate muscular tension or joint conditions. It really helps, therefore, if you are prepared to stand in front of the therapist in loose fitting short shorts, or big knickers, and a bra for ladies. It is not mandatory, so if you feel uncomfortable about doing that, all you have to do is let the therapist know and they will work through your clothes instead. It is always possible (if cold, for example), to do the top half, then the bottom half. The therapist is responsible for ensuring you feel comfortable during the assessment, and will work with what makes you feel at ease.
Should I do any preparation?
It will help to keep notes of any aches and pains, so that when you discuss this with the therapist, you don’t forget anything – you would be surprised how easy it is to forget something that isn’t happening right there and then. Have a think about how you feel when exercising, how you feel directly afterwards, and how you feel 48 hours later. If you have chronic pain, what triggers this? Is it worse when you wake up, or in the evening after a day at work?
Keep a note of any medication you are taking, or if you have taken painkillers in the preceding 24 hours, and the reasons why. You will be asked some health-related questions at the first appointment about whether you are receiving medical treatment for any conditions. It is important that the therapist knows, as some of these conditions may make sports massage an inappropriate treatment.
How long will it take?
The first appointment will take the longest, as the therapist will want to capture your details and formulate a good understanding about what you require. Typically, this one will take about 55 minutes. Subsequent appointments (unless there is a significant change to your health) will take between 30 minutes and 45 minutes, depending on what you need.
Will it hurt?
In common with many other sporting stereotypes, there is a tendency to associate sports massage with a macho ‘no pain, no gain’ belief – this is not accurate, and can put people off. Whilst you will best be able to judge for yourself after your first treatment,sportsmassageisusually(butnotalways)firm. Thegoalistoenableyourbodytorestoreeaseandcomfortto tissues which may be tight or tense or to bring greater ease and range of movement to stiff or sore joints, to ease pain. The therapist uses varying degrees of pressure (relative to your size, age and health) to make this happen. Pressure on tight muscles can trigger pain messages and thus feel uncomfortable. Some clients describe this as ‘grateful pain’ – they feel that it is doing them good. No therapist should inflict pain on you without your understanding about the goal of the technique. You can decline a technique if you wish. If something is being done to you which hurts, you must tell your therapist as this feedback may shed further light on your condition, or may require a different technique to be used instead.
What should I do afterwards?
Your therapist should always advise on aftercare. A full body sports massage is like a workout, and therefore, you should take it easy as far as other exercise that day is concerned. Also, like a workout, you may feel stiff the following morning, before you get out of bed, start moving, and warm up. If the sports massage has treated an injury, you may even wish to
take an anti-inflammatory painkiller to ease the soreness. Your therapist may offer to email you some recommended exercises following your treatment, to enable you to continue to feel better.
How long will the effects last?
Physiologically, the effects of a sports massage will last between 24 and 48 hours, depending on factors such as your age, your health, the state of your musculoskeletal system, the level of exercise you have done or do during that time, your diet and hydration.
How regularly should I get a sports massage?
As long as you do not have a contra-indicated condition, you can get sports massage as often as you like! The therapist will tailor it to accommodate your requirements. As a general guide:
- Weekly, (or shorter) if you have a heavy training load, i.e. you are an elite sportsperson, or you are preparing for an intense event such as a marathon, are recovering from an acute injury, or have just started to use massage to relieve chronic pain.
- Fortnightly if you lead an active lifestyle, which includes competitive events on a regular basis, or have chronic pain which prevents you carrying out normal activities.
- Monthly if you train regularly, have chronic pain during normal activity levels, or like regular maintenance massage.
- Quarterly if you consider yourself to have a normal level of activity, and think that massage is part of good physical maintenance.
If you are receiving sports massage as rehabilitation following an injury, the frequency will be different to this general guide, and should be agreed between you, your therapist and other professionals involved in the treatment of the injury.