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Massage Before Activity


by Joseph Robert, L.A.T.C.


We all know how good a massage feels
after a long day at work. With this understanding, a massage after
competition is just as good with the relief of sore achy muscles.
However, a massage prior to competition? That might not make sense to
the average Joe, but it is typical protocol to all professional or
elite athletes. Professional boxers, Olympic, and Tri-athletes all
have massage treatments before and after competition.


Massage by definition is the
systematic and scientific manipulation of soft tissue (muscles and
tendons) of the body applied by the use of hands. Today, the big
sellers at the malls are personal electrical massage equipment. The
purpose of massage is to reverse the results of activity that caused
imbalance with tin the body soft tissue. The purpose of massage prior
to activity is to be a sedative one, to reduce stress, tightness, and
relax the body from pre-game jitters. It also is to increase
circulation passively to areas of the body that will be used the most
during activity.


The question that needs to be answered
is how do you give a proper massage? You’ve probably seen massage
prior to competition while watching a heavyweight fighter prepare for
fight. Scenes where a boxer’s hands are being taped while his
upper body is being massaged. If you have seen this, you would have
noticed the masseuse concentrating on the back, arms, shoulders, and
neck.


The techniques used primarily are
effleurage (stroking) and tapoement (soft percussion). Effleurage is a
stroking technique where the hands mold to the body part and stroke
with a firm even pressure. This technique is used at the beginning and
ending of a massage. It’s function is to prepare body parts for
massage and the finishing touches of a massage. Tapoement is used to
stimulate area with cupping, slapping, beating, and placement. These
actions are highly successful on the back, neck, legs and gluteal or
larger body parts.


For example: If you were working on a
sprinter, we would first position the athlete by having them lie face
down. Start with effleurage strokes from the calves to the hamstrings
and work your way toward the gluteals. Using some cross friction
across the tendons would prepare the athlete for some deeper pressure
and warm the patient up for some tapoement stimulation. Cupping of the
calves and hamstrings group would progress to soft slapping, beating,
pincement (pinching). This would be followed with some milking or
finishing effleurage strokes. Most massage should progress from the
extremities toward the torso or heart.


Most pre-competition massage is done
either from twenty four hours to seconds before competition. The
massage that is performed a day prior is usually done for calming
tense muscles from pre-game jitters. The latter massage is done
passively to stimulate muscles for activity.


So whether you have a pre-game jitter
or a big presentation at work the next day, massage will usually solve
the problem. In coming week, I will discuss massage techniques
concentrating on tired and aching feet and backs. So you waitresses
and landscapers keep a close look out. If you have any questions
concerning pre-game, post game, or just plain massage, call the
Division of Sports Medicine at Northeast Rehabilitation Health Network
at (603) 893-2900 x606.