Sports masseurs knead and stroke the muscles with their hands to relieve muscle tension and improve circulation. Massage can improve flexibility, but one of the main benefits to runners is simply relaxation.
Anyone can call themselves a sports masseur without any form of training, so be discriminating in your choice. You may find a good sports masseur through personal recommendation, but a more certain way is to look out for the letters LSSM and FSMT.
Muscle strains; sprains of the back, hips and leg muscles, particularly the quadriceps, hamstrings and calf muscles; shoulder, neck and arm soreness.
When to go
If you’re stiff or sore after a long run, or have a nagging muscular injury which prevents you training at your full speed. Sports massage is especially appropriate in the last few weeks before a major race for increased vitality and overall relaxation.
What to expect
Just like any examining physician, a massage therapist will question you about your medical and athletic history before zeroing in on your current problem. While massage can be conducted with the patient fully clothed and seated in a chair, most sports masseurs work with the patient fully or partially disrobed and lying beneath a sheet. A massage generally lasts between 30 and 90 minutes.
When Sophie Wright, 16, pulled out of a recent 400m race with a stiff, sore back after just 10 strides, she feared the worst. She’d thought back problems were for the elderly. And the County Championships were just a fortnight away.
Wright iced the injury for a quarter of an hour and visited a sports masseur two days later. He discovered that a muscle in Wright’s lower back had locked, probably because she had not stretched her hamstrings sufficiently prior to the race. After massaging the lower back and the hamstrings, the masseur prescribed a series of stretches.
Cost of treatment
You’ll find sports masseurs cheaper than other specialists. Most will charge around £30 for an hour-long first consultation, with £15 for further 30-minute visits. At present treatment is not available on the NHS.
The Fellowship of Sports Masseurs and Therapists; 01707 873698; Massage Therapy UK www.massagetherapy.co.uk