Massage has its roots in ancient times. The first written documents on this subject date back more than 5,000 years but massage techniques have continued to develop over the centuries: it is not difficult to find traces in Greek and Roman culture, thought the Middle Ages and up until modern times.
The main effects of a massage are those of a greater supply of oxygen and nutrients in a specific area, helping to eliminate waste products and excess fluids, not to mention the positive effects on the lymphatic system, where it helps with the disposal of toxins. Massage should not be underestimated for a moment of relaxation, helping recovery, as well as providing a break between one source of stress and another. There are many more beneficial effects of massage but today we will focus mainly on the importance of tension-relieving massage in athletes of all levels.
You often happens how football, volleyball, basketball, etc. teams have one or more masseurs on their medical staff. This is because in the intensive and repeated efforts it is very common to encounter increases in muscle tension that can result in genuine muscle spasms, which can be painful and limit the athlete’s performance.
A spasm is not the sole preserve of the sports person at any level but it can also more simply as a result of bad habits: think of back stiffness as a result of sitting for a prolonged period with bad posture, of lumbar pains in people who spend a lot of time sat down and so on.
For runners, the most commonly affected areas are the muscles of the thighs, calves and not infrequently problems in the back and other areas of the body.
It is therefore important to use massages, performed solely by a trained professional, as a preventative technique or following intense efforts.
Professional masseurs may use special oils or manipulations to help relieve (potential) spasms and in general to promote improve oxygenation of the muscle fibres, remove toxins, help to prevent injuries and to provide you with a pleasant and relaxing experience.
Lorenzo Andreini, FIDAL Physiotherapist and Instructor – Santucci Running Coach