Our Sports massage therapists at massage.physio.co.uk are able to help various types of long-term musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions. An MSK condition is something that can affect the bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, joints or connective tissues within our body. Long-term MSK conditions can become very tiring on our bodies and cause both mental and physical stress.
Our therapists appreciate that creating appropriate and effective management programs can be a vital part of recovery or of reducing the effects various MSK conditions can have. By managing these conditions through regular massage sessions, the negative symptoms associated with the conditions can be relieved and therefore reduce mental and physical stress.
Frequent massage sessions can help to ease symptoms of many long-term MSK conditions including:
- Chronic pain
- Back pain
Some of the most common long-term MSK conditions sports massage can help include chronic pain, back pain and arthritis
Chronic pain can be described as a pain lasting for more than 12 weeks. Chronic pain can affect a person both physically and mentally. Physically, a person will feel pain such as aching, throbbing, shooting or sharp pains. Chronic pain can also leave a person feeling physical fatigued and weakened due to constant or persistent pain. Mentally, pain can cause increased stress and anxiety and can prevent a person from performing daily activities or exercise.
There are many different conditions that can cause chronic pain including:
- Repetitive stress injuries
- Nerve damage
- Post trauma pain
- Post-surgery pain
Massage is a useful tool in reducing or managing chronic pain. Massage can help to reduce chronic pain by increasing healing, relieving muscular stiffness and increasing relaxation.
During a massage, stimulation of blood and lymphatic circulation occurs. The blood circulation provides the area of concern with increased nutrients essential for the repair of damaged tissues. Lymphatic circulation is responsible for filtering and flushing out waste products and toxins that may be prohibiting recovery and increasing pain symptoms. By improving both blood and lymphatic circulation, a person would expect to see increased healing, reduced swelling and reduced chronic pain.
Reduced muscular stiffness
Muscular stiffness often occurs as the body’s defensive mechanism to chronic pain. In some circumstances, a certain level of muscular tension can help provide stability and control for weakened or damaged structures. However, in most situations muscular tension and stiffness can contribute to and worsen symptoms of pain.
A massage helps to strip through muscular tension to help break down muscular knots and stiffness, increase tissue elasticity and encourage muscular relaxation therefore reducing pain.
A massage is useful in encouraging relaxation both physically and mentally. Physically, a massage helps to relax soft tissues previously contributing to chronic pain. Massage can help mentally as by reducing pain through physical relaxation, symptoms of stress and anxiety also reduce. As well as this, massage promotes the release of our feel good hormones such as endorphins, dopamine and serotonin. Our feel good hormones aid in giving us feelings of happiness and relaxation whilst preventing feelings of stress and depression. By increasing overall relaxation, symptoms of chronic pain can reduce significantly.
Back pain is one of the most common long-term MSK conditions seen. The lower back specifically is the most commonly seen area of pain however, pain can also be felt in the mid and upper back areas. Back pain can often prevent a person from working, exercising and/or completing simple daily activities and can therefore be one of the most immobilising chronic pain issues seen.
There are many causes of long-term back pain including:
- Poor posture
- Disc issues e.g. herniated disc
- Weakness/muscular imbalances
Massage can be a very effective form of treatment for those with long-term back pain. A massage can help to reduce back pain by improving posture, breaking down muscular knots and improving tone.
Poor posture is a common issue that most people have. The most common posture seen can be described as shoulders curved forwards with the head tilting slightly backwards. Poor posture can occur as a result of the type of work a person does i.e. if a person is desk based, they are more likely to promote this type of posture and general muscular weakness and tightness.
A massage helps by stripping through and loosening muscles contributing to poor posture, whilst also encouraging improved tone in weaker muscles. By improving posture, the back is able to sit in a comfortable and natural position resulting in decreased back pain.
Breakdown of muscular knots
Muscular knots or trigger points are something almost every person will have around their back. Muscular knots are bundles of tension that have swelled and hardened causing a bumpy, knotted feeling within the back. Muscular knots and trigger points often cause muscular fatigue and weakness, shortening of muscles and can actively cause pain.
A message works by using specific techniques such as trigger pointing that encourage the breakdown of knots, increased healing and relaxation of the muscles. All of these contribute to a reduction in back pain.
Every person needs a certain level of ‘tone’ within their muscles in order for them to function correctly and hold our body in certain positions. However, to much or too little tone can result in back pain.
Too much tone can occur due to muscles being overloaded or overworked causing an increase in muscle contraction. Too much tone can cause muscular fatigue and weakness and eventually pain. Too little tone can be due to muscular weakness or imbalance when muscles are not used or activated as they should. When a muscle is weak, the surrounding structures overcompensate and take on the load of the weakened muscle as well resulting in back pain.
A massage helps to improve tone by stripping through tension, relaxing tightened muscles and encouraging an increase in blood flow. By doing this, tone can improve therefore reducing back pain.
Arthritis is a condition that affects the joints within our body. There are two types of arthritis; rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation, stiffness and swelling within the joints of our body. It will most commonly affect smaller joints such as those found in your hands. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis and causes stiffness and swelling within joints. Osteoarthritis can affect any joint within the body but is most commonly found in the shoulder, hips and knees.
Although there are not always specific causes of arthritis, there are many negative symptoms that can occur and cause long-term pain including:
- Joint pain
- Joint tenderness
- Joint inflammation or swelling
- Joint stiffness
- Loss of range of motion
- Joint pain
Though massage cannot reverse or remove arthritis, it can be very beneficial in reducing symptoms and effects that can occur due to the arthritis. A massage can help arthritis by reducing muscle and joint stiffness, improving blood flow and improving range of motion.
Reduced muscle stiffness
Muscle and joint stiffness is a common effect of both types of arthritis. Although some muscle stiffness can be beneficial to support joints that have weakened due to the arthritis, excessive stiffness can result in limited range of movement, increase pain symptoms and be generally uncomfortable on a daily basis.
A massage helps to reduce muscle and joint stiffness in many ways. Massage improves tissue elasticity by increasing soft tissue temperature to enable muscle or soft tissue tension to release and relax. By encouraging relaxation of the soft tissues, this also helps to reduce joint stiffness therefore reducing pain and improving range of movement.
Improved blood flow
Blood flow contains all the healthy nutrients and oxygen needed for the bodies repair process and to keep our muscles and joints healthy and strong. Poor circulation is a common issue in those with arthritis. Poor blood flow can result in increased muscle and joint stiffness, slower repair/recovery process, increased inflammation and much more.
One of the key benefits of massage for arthritis is increased blood flow. Our therapists use a range of techniques to help stimulate the blood circulation towards and around the affected areas. By increasing blood flow, this can help limit the effects of arthritis and the inflammation it causes whilst also providing the area with a larger quantity of nutrients to help it stay stronger and healthier for longer.
Improved range of motion
It is common for range of motion at both joints and within soft tissues to lessen with arthritis. Factors such as pain, inflammation and muscle stiffness all contribute to limiting range of motion. When range of motion becomes limited, both physical and mental stress can occur and simple daily activities can become complex.
A massage is an effective tool that aids in improving range of movement. By using various different techniques, muscle fibres can be stretched and loosened in order to improve tissue elasticity. By improving tissue elasticity, range of motion within a muscle can increase.
An increase in blood flow to the joints also occurs during a massage. Increasing blood flow can help reduce swelling and inflammation at a joint, further improving range of motion.