It will explore the use of massage generally then focus on specific techniques used in myofascial pathologies. It will also describe the techniques employed, the clinical reasoning for their choice and the relevant supporting evidence.
The relevant anatomy will be discussed as well as the proposed influences of massage on these structures using current literature to support these hypotheses.
Massage has been used around the world for thousands of years for rehabilitation and relaxation (Weerapong et al, 2005). Massage is the treatment and practice of manipulation of the soft body tissues with physical, functional, i.e. mechanical, medical/therapeutic, and in some cases psychological purposes and goals. Massage has been defined as “a mechanical manipulation of body tissues with rythmical pressure and stroking for the purpose of promoting health and well-being” (Cafarelli and Flint,1992).
Massage is widely used by the athletic population for a variety of purposes such as injury prevention, recovery from fatigue, relaxation, and to increase performance (Hemmings, 2001). Galloway and Watt (2004) report that at Major Athletic events on average 45% of physiotherapeutic treatment time was spent on massage, 80% of which would come under the ‘sports massage’ category. This led to the suggestion that specifically trained sports masseurs be included in the medical support team.
The popularity of sports massage is not in doubt; however Weerapong (2005) is clear in stating that there is “no evidence that massage can actually improve performance, enhance recovery or prevent muscular injury” (P246). The supporters of massage claim it benefits the individual via biomechanical, physiological, neurological and psychological mechanisms (Cash, 2000).
Despite the evidence athletes, coaches and medical personnel continue to
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