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What is Sport & Remedial Massage Therapy
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Tags: sport and remedial massage, sports massage, remedial massage, soft tissue techniques, muscle energy techniques, neuromuscular technique

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Sport & Remedial Massage History

The earliest recording of massage dates back to the Chinese in 3000 BC. Today massage has evolved into over 400 recognised styles, ranging from Shiatsu, Thai, Swedish, Aromatherapy, Holistic, Hot Stone Therapy, Sport & Remedial Massage. 

Each discipline have common objectives, which include the restoration of musculoskeletal function and the release of physiological or psychological tension. The approach varies from one discipline to another.  Some types of massage such as Aromatherapy work with the sense of smell  by applying essential oils to encourage well being, Shiatsu applies pressure to specific points to stimulate or  release the meridians through which energy flows, and Hot Stone Therapy uses heated volcanic lava stones combined with Swedish Massage to bring relief to stiff and sore muscles.  All of these therapies are for the benefit of the client and to help alleviate physical, mental and emotional ailments.   

Sport & Remedial Massage has evolved from the needs of the athlete and the general public.  Originally it was called Sports Massage, which for many meant  deep tissue work coupled with some remedial techniques.  Over the years a distinction has developed and Sports Massage has come to mean general massage applied in the sporting context. Sport & Remedial work has evolved to encompass a variety of remedial techniques for a wide range of soft tissue conditions which are not exclusively related to sport but may be experienced by any individual.  For the purposes of this article, Sport & Remedial massage will be the focus.


What can you expect from a Sport & Remedial Massage session?

During the initial appointment a comprehensive history will be taken, it might also include a postural and biomechanical assessment. Therapists all work differently, they develop their own styles and use a variety of remedial techniques. (Some of which are listed below). The massage itself is not a systematic application of massage moves, but rather the therapist will focus on the areas of concern and spend less time elsewhere.   Sometimes there might be a certain amount of discomfort, it is often referred to by clients as “good pain”.  This often lessens with each treatment as tissue tension is released and function restored.  Sport & Remedial massage focuses on the reasons for the problems and works towards helping the client get optimum function back.  Often therapists will work in conjunction with other complementary therapies and conventional medicine to insure the best outcome. 



Depending on the type of massage stroke used, it can either relax or energise physiologically and psychologically.

It helps to remove waste from soft tissue, which encourages a greater intake of nutritional needs leading to healthier tissue.   

Various techniques can separate connective tissue thus improving muscle function by allowing more normalized gliding movement between and within the muscles. 

Through touch there is also improved self awareness. It can identify hidden muscle tension and muscle imbalances.  Alongside this comes early identification of potential problems that could lead to injury. 

By alleviating the abnormal tension in the muscles and creating greater flexibility and movement, normal muscle function can be restored. 

For an athlete this translates into faster recovery, better technique, enhanced performance, greater energy, increased flexibility, pain reduction and less potential for injury.


The Therapist’s Bag of Remedial Techniques

All Sport & Remedial Massage therapists are trained in the foundational massage techniques such as; effleurage, pettrissage, tapotement, compression and vibration. Each therapist then receives further training in  a variety of remedial techniques which might include some of the following: 

Friction - A deep tissue technique that is used to break down adhesions, realign tissue and to build strong connective fibres by applying specific and controlled movement in a small area. 

Muscle Energy Technique (MET) - Effectively it restores flexibility by stretching incrementally and usually used on larger muscles.  It is used to treat somatic dysfunction presenting as loss of range of motion secondary to muscular inhibition. There are several techniques which may be called muscle energy techniques including reciprocal inhibition, and post-isometric relaxation.

Soft Tissue Technique (STR)- It is a method of applying pressure to a specific area on a muscle at the same time the muscle is being stretched. This coordinated movement has a correcting effect on all muscular imbalances, which might include injured areas where scar tissue has formed.

Neuromuscular Technique (NMT) - Is the application of ischemic pressure, which involves pushing a point on the body hard enough to stimulate the nervous system and increase circulation to the area. Associated with this are trigger points which are specific points

where the nerve impulses to these muscle fibers will not "shut off" and require intervention to deactivate them. 

Myofascial Release (MFR) -  It is commonly used to treat the restricted fascia associated with skin, subcutaneous tissue, and other superficial structures that are limited in their mobility. It involves the application of sustained pressure and movement to treat soft-tissue restriction.

Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) - is a repetitive and dynamic facilitated stretch of major muscle groups. 

There are numerous other techniques that a therapists can choose from, such as Connective Tissue Manipulation, Positional Release etc. Sport & Remedial Massage therapists depend on their hands to do the work and typically do not use other supportive modalities such as tens machines or exercise equipment. 


Who is it for?

There is a misconception that Sport and Remedial Massage is for athletes only, yet a significant number of clients who walk into the clinic are those individuals who work in the office, who sit at the computer, the teacher who tries to squeeze into itty bitty chairs, tradesmen who do physical and repetitive work, or simply someone who has accumulated a life’s worth of complaints.  It is not an exclusive form of therapy, but all inclusive. Therapists are trained to take a holistic approach, addressing individual concerns, using hands on therapy.  The aim is to restore the optimum function to soft tissue and joints, thus increasing a persons quality of life and activity. 

By Susan Findlay BSc RGN, Dip SRMT
All rights reserved. Any reproducing of this article must have the author name and all the links intact.


Biography: Susan is a certified Sport and Remedial Massage therapist since 1996 and has been teaching since 1998 at numerous colleges as well as lecturing nationally. She is currently the director of the North London School of Sports Massage and continues her work as a senior lecturer. She feels it is important to keep up with the practical side of the profession and has a clinic in North London.

Her background includes classical dance and gymnastics wherein began her interest in the area of how the body works. Eventually she went on to retrain as a nurse working in a wide range of disciplines. She came to England from Canada in 1992 and worked for a short period within the NHS. Soon afterwards she changed her career to work within the health and fitness field, working with GP's and health centers setting up programs for a wide range of clientele. After years of teaching 20+ classes a week and running health programs she wanted to integrate her medical, health and fitness background under one umbrella. Hence, she trained once more in Sport and Remedial Massage, incorporating all her experience into her treatments and the development of the North London School of Sports Massage.

Susan is passionate about the quality of training courses that are available within the UK and is on the board of the General Council Massage Therapies serving as Chair of Communications. One of GCMT 's aims is the development of high standards of practice and training within the profession.

Watch out for her book in May 2010 titled Sports Massage. It will be available from Human Kinetics.

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