Recently I offered massage at the end of a long cycle ride event. There were not as many riders taking advantage of the offer. From the faces some of them were making at the end, they were obvious suffering with cramp and sore, tight muscles.
However, one of my clients mentioned that at a previous event, there were screams coming out of the massage tent as the therapists were working on the ITB. (Work on this tissue does tend to be uncomfortable but it is possible release some of the tension without the client screaming!) Did this put riders off?
People talk about sports massage as if it were a uniform type of massage. It is not. There are actually 4 different applications of sports massage.
Pre-event massage aims to quickly release any inappropriate muscle tightness and to help stimulate circulation in the working muscles.
Maintenance massage generally focuses on the muscles that are used in a particular sport. Any restrictions in muscle movement are released, and general flexibility is maintained. This approach to soft tissue health helps to prevent injury.
Post-event massage aims to flush out the fluids in the working muscles which helps to prevent delayed muscle soreness. It also helps to promote relaxation in the muscles so they can recover.
Finally there is rehabilitation massage which helps to promote recvoery following an injury. This approach aims to limit swelling, prevent the formation of adhesions, and support recovery of the injured tissue.
All of these approaches are part of sports massage. The types of massage strokes/techniques that are used will vary depending on the particular situation. Some of the techniques may be more uncomfortable than others but not to the point that the client is screaming. If it is that painful, it is not beneficial to the client or to their body. Pain after all is a signal to the body that something is not right!
Sports massage when performed with due regard to client's needs should be a part of every sports person's fitness plan. You just need to find someone who you can work with!