How Can Massage Therapy Benefit Those Who’ve Suffered a Sports Injury?
Injuries happen almost every day. Some are more annoyances, like bumps and bruises from a careless step or a distracted movement. Others are more serious, but still relatively minor and easy to treat.
Some of the more serious injuries in life come from more rigorous activities, like sports. Many athletes, even those weekend warriors, will experience multiple injuries throughout their sports careers. In fact, each and every year 3.5 million children ages 14 and younger are hurt while playing a sport or participating in physical activity.
That number is shocking, but it doesn’t take into account those athletes at higher levels – high school, collegiate, or even professional sports. And while the number is high, the vast majority of these injuries are less serious – strains or sprains.
It’s clear that sports injuries are not uncommon, but they can have very serious and long-lasting effects, even after the athlete has retired. While the best way to protect a body is to prevent an injury, there is the possibility of recurrent injuries and the need for helpful treatments.
Common Sports Injuries
Even though sprains and strains are the most common sports injuries that athletes experience no matter the level or type of sporting activity, there are far more common injuries to be aware of.
The most vulnerable areas for injury are joints and tendons. These areas take a lot of the force when an athlete participates in their chosen sport. And these areas cannot be strengthened through traditional weight lifting or exercise methods.
Many athletes will experience injuries to their knees, Achilles tendons, and rotator cuffs. Outside of those injuries, athletes often experience swollen muscles and localized pain, usually in the shin bone. In more extreme cases, though still common, athletes can break or dislocate bones.
While proper equipment and preparation are keys to minimizing injuries, there is no way to guarantee an athlete won’t get injured. The focus should really be on how to effectively treat those injuries that do occur.
Treatments for Sports Injuries
Injuries happen and they have to be treated. How a sports injury is treated depends on the injury itself, as well as the athlete’s overall health and past injuries. Of course, each type of sports injury has a common treatment protocol.
Casting or Splinting
For broken or dislocated bones, athletes can expect extended immobilization in a cast, splint, or the like. This allows the bone and/or joint a safe space and enough time to mend itself. This is used for the smaller breaks and dislocations – wrists, feet, ankles, and collar bones.
More serious breaks or dislocations may require different types of surgeries. These surgeries are used to aid in the healing of larger breaks like legs, arms, elbows, and tendons like ACL and MCL.
Localized pain treatment (injections/pain meds)
Many of these sports injuries, even swollen muscles and sprains, are painful. In order to treat the pain aspect of these injuries, many doctors will prescribe pain medications taken either orally or through injections.
Many injuries require an athlete to stop training even more for just a few weeks. Any time spent away from the field or training arena can lead to muscle atrophy, especially when a joint or tendon is injured. This usually requires the athlete to spend additional time in physical therapy to ensure the injury is healing and the areas around the injury can hold up when the athlete returns to the field of play.
Perhaps a less well-known treatment of sports injuries is massage therapy. Many may consider massage therapy to be a luxury, something to be used if time or finances allow. The truth is, massage therapy can be incredibly beneficial in treating certain sports injuries and helping to prevent future ones from occurring.
Massage therapy focuses on the soft tissues of the body – tendons, ligaments, muscles, and other connective tissues. These areas can be heavily fatigued as well as injured. The strain and impact these areas take can be extensive.
The use of massage therapy has been known to increase range of motion as well as power and overall performance, decrease overall muscle tension, and minimize the chance of reinjury. It’s a vital way to aid in and increase the healing of a current or past injury and protect the body in the future. So it’s important to see massage therapy as a key and vital part of sports injury treatment and prevention.
Everett Spine and Rehab: Massage Therapy and Physical Therapy for Sport-Related Injury
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