Injuries are common, especially in combat sports such as boxing. Aside from the obvious injuries arising from striking your opponent and being hit in return, the rigorous movements and speed required to compete at a high level puts a lot of strain on joints and skeletal muscles.
Sports massage therapy is one of the most important measures that can be taken to prevent injury from occurring, and expedite recovery of minor injuries.
It goes without saying that sports massages are not just beneficial to boxers – all sports and all athletes, from world class Olympians to casual joggers, can benefit massively from sports massages. Soft tissue massage is instrumental in both preventing injuries and rehabilitating injuries that inevitably do occur.
As a boxer myself, I will concentrate on the specific body parts that suffer most from the explosive movements required of me in the boxing ring. The shoulders and back are the two areas that are most commonly injured during boxing bouts and training, so that is where my sports masseuse concentrates most of his efforts.
It’s impossible to deny that sports massages hurt – very much! However, it’s important to recognise that sports massage is very much a “no pain, no gain” enterprise!
Sports masseuse Roger Gorman states: “people often come to me having already been injured, so as well as rehabilitation exercises, I also emphasise the importance of prehabilitation – keeping your body in good condition to prevent injuries in the first place.”
“For example”, Gorman continues, “if you leave a muscle knot untreated, over time the muscle eventually becomes unresponsive. It has used up so much energy that it simply cannot continue further. As a result it fatigues faster and leads to more injuries.”
What, exactly, is a muscle knot however?
Muscles are made of fibres, and inside these fibres there are spindles that slide over each other to create energy. Sometimes the spindles slide over each other, but don’t slide back, therefore becoming stuck.
Much like a car pile up, these spindles come into the centre and get backed up until a ball emerges as a knot forms.
Before visiting Roger, my back and shoulders were extremely knotted, but after just one session there were noticeable improvements. While the massage itself can be quite painful, you leave the massage table feeling lighter and looser.
Sports massage therapy should be a part of every athlete’s training regimen. While they should be undertaken at a minimum of once a month, fortnightly is the best. Of course, this will vary based on budgets and the intensity of the regime any individual follows.
“It’s of the utmost importance to communicate how effective sports massage therapy can be” Roger states. “I’m constantly reminding clients that it will increase mobility, flexibility and overall muscle strength and endurance. It’s also important that clients relax and breathe through the massage, as tensing the muscle during the massage only increases the pain.”
When asked whether clients are put off by the painful reputation that sports massage has, Roger replied “The pain can be a barrier, but once people experience the benefits for themselves they begin to understand that it’s well worth enduring.
My secret trick is to ‘eat the frog’, so to speak, and get the painful stuff over and done with first, then finish off the session with more pleasant, relaxing techniques so you forget the pain by the end!”