The Role of the Sports Massage Therapist

osteopathy treatment for sciatica

Anyone can give a massage, but it takes a particular person to become a licensed massage therapist. Indeed, it takes years of training to become a master manipulator of muscles. Sports massage therapists, in particular, offer a specific set of skills and qualifications, knowing just what to do to help their clients recover from, or even prevent, physical injury, and being familiar with the mental benefits of massage, as well.

Let’s take a look at each of these ideas a little more in-depth to understand the vital role that sports massage therapists and their craft can play in the lives of both athletes and non-athletes alike.

Sports Massage Therapists and the Physical Benefits of Sports Massage

Sports massage therapists spend time and money to learn which parts of the body are most susceptible to athletic injury and the best way to treat those soft tissues. However, it is essential to note that a sports massage therapist’s work isn’t restricted solely to treating athletes. Because the parts of the body that are focused on during a sports massage—soft tissues, particularly around joints like the knees and shoulders—can become tense or injured during everyday activity. The causes of such damage include the repeated lifting of objects in manual labor positions or even sitting hunched at a computer desk all day, which makes sports massage appropriate for nearly anyone.

Physically, the techniques used in sports massage can loosen tightened muscles, increase blood flow and overall range of motion, and in some cases, help speed up injury recovery time, depending on the injury the athlete sustains. These massages are done using various techniques, including effleurage: light, stroking touches, and petrissage: firmer, squeezing touches. The sports massage therapist applies these techniques to help soothe tense muscles, improve blood flow, and even help detoxify the muscles by boosting the body’s lymphatic system.

Sports Massage Therapists and the Mental Benefits of Sports Massage

The knowledge possessed by sports massage therapists extends past which nerves and muscles to treat and when. A sports massage therapist is also well-versed in the mental benefits of their occupation.

In general, massage therapy can increase the production of certain chemicals in the brain, particularly dopamine and serotonin. Dopamine is the chemical in the brain that works as a neurotransmitter, helping to regulate, among other things, mood, attention, and motivation. Serotonin is another neurotransmitter, and it also plays a role in mood stabilization and psycho-physio processes such as sexual desire. Because massage therapy can increase these neurotransmitters’ production, there is evidence to suggest that massage therapy may aid in the treatment of certain mental conditions, including depression, insomnia, and anxiety. 

A Final Word

To these ends, the work of a sports massage therapist may be especially beneficial to athletes. When sports are such a monumental aspect of your life, the physical benefits of sports massage may help prevent or expedite recovery from an injury or else help with the mental strain that comes with either being sidelined from an injury or being hyperaware of trying to avoid one.

But since the benefits of massage are so wide-ranging, the sports massage therapist’s fundamental role is to improve anyone’s musculoskeletal system, one touch at a time.

Looking After a Slipped Disc

A person’s spine is made of vertebrae, which are cushioned with discs. These discs protect the bones from shock. When an injury occurs, that damages the disc’s inner gelatinous part, causing it to protrude through the outer ring, causes a herniated disc. When you have a slipped disc, the key to taking care of yourself is listening to your doctor and taking it upon yourself to practice safe, at home remedies.


How do you know if you’ve injured yourself in a way that caused a slipped disc? Here’s a list of possible symptoms that can come from a herniated disc:

  • Pain/numbness (usually in one side)
  • Pain down a(n) arm/leg
  • Pain with particular movements
  • Pain when walking
  • Unusual muscle weakness
  • Aching/burning in the affected area of the spine

The Doctor’s Diagnosis

Even if you often take Doctor Google’s advice as law and follow your research, a slipped disc can be a severe injury. If you are having pain in your back due to an injury or are experiencing some of these symptoms and think you may have injured yourself, get a formal diagnosis from your preferred physician.

A doctor can diagnose a slipped disc in a few different ways:

  1. Neurological exam (in which they will test your reflexes, muscle strength, walking ability, and pinching or vibration feelings in the affected spot)
  2. X-rays (when a doctor will take images of your spine, mainly to rule out any other issues that could be causing pain/discomfort)
  3. CT Scan (when they will take an image of your spinal structure)
  4. MRI (another image, which can locate the site of the herniated disc)
  5. Nerve tests (in which they measure how electrical impulses move along nerve tissue)

At Home Care

Once you’ve allowed your doctor to run their tests and formally diagnose you with a slipped disc, it’s up to you back at home to care for your injury correctly. While your medical professional will indeed prescribe you medication to help with the damage and give you some restrictions, here are some helpful self-care tips to keep in mind during your recovery:

  • Listen to your doctor; that means taking your medication exactly as prescribed, avoiding anything they told you to, and reaching out if there are any further issues.
  • Ask your doctor about over the counter pain medications to help with your pain.
  • Rest your back when it is in pain, especially if the problem feels overwhelming.
  • Avoid any movement or positions that make you uncomfortable or in pain.
  • Keep your muscles active to improve strength, such as doing light exercises like short walks
  • Use heat/cold therapy techniques, such as:

Heat: warm water bottle compress on injury spot, heating pad (kept on low), warm cloth

Cold: ice pack or a cold pack on the injured area for no more than twenty minutes, with a cloth between your skin and the pack

Though a slipped disc certainly offers some restrictions and inconveniences to your everyday life, knowing how to properly care for your injury can lead to faster and more complete recovery.

Managing clicking in your back

Many people notice their joints clicking and groaning more as they become adults, and these noises are usually considered harmless. But if these clicks, also known as crepitus, are accompanied by pain, then it is a sign that something is not right and that it’s probably time to see a medical professional.

Your spine is comprised of twenty-four vertebrae, separated by intervertebral discs. Your lumbar spine is commonly known as your lower back, and below that, there is a weight-bearing joint called the sacroiliac joint. These two lower regions are the most likely to cause pain, especially when put under intense strain. Clicking noises are often a symptom of this strain.

What Causes Clicking in Your Back?

Many medical professionals believe that clicking noises are the result of trapped gas in the joints. The noises could also be the result of tightening ligaments or other joint strains. For example, a herniated disc is another condition where the intervertebral discs have become herniated or weak. There is no end to what can cause back pain and clicking, so it often needs to be analyzed thoroughly and trusted holistically.

If clicking is not accompanied by pain, but you are experiencing other symptoms, it may still cause concern. If there is swelling or if joints are locking after they pop, this could also be a symptom of broader back issues. Seeking early treatment can help restore a full range of motion and prevent future swelling.

What Other Symptoms Can Alert You to Back Problems?

Back pain and clicking noises are significant symptoms for back problems, but they are not the only symptoms to watch. Pain down your leg, as well as difficulty or discomfort standing, can also be signs that your back needs treatment. Additionally, things like headaches and neck pain are often related to back problems.

What Are Your Treatment Options?

One of the most common forms of treatment for back pain and associated problems is deep tissue massage. Massage can help relax the muscles around your spine and relieve knots. Physical therapy and osteopathic treatment can also help treat back pain holistically and have access to technology like x-rays, which allow medical professionals to see the issue more clearly.

Osteopathy and chiropractic treatment are other options. Back pain and clicking can be alleviated with spinal manipulation and medical spine cracking. These procedures can also be incredibly beneficial for those suffering headaches as a side-effect of back problems.

Of course, the type of treatment that is best for you will depend on the cause of the clicking and the pain. Back issues are serious, though, and can often be signs of even more pressing physical problems. Seeing a General Practitioner is a significant first step for back pain because they can point you in the direction of the treatment that may be best for you.


Osteopath for Climbing Injuries

patient receiving lower back massage

Every climber knows that climbing can be hard on the body because of falls and overtraining, and muscle stresses. Osteopathy is a treatment that gives a holistic approach to healing, focusing on the musculoskeletal system.

If you are experiencing pain and discomfort because of climbing, an osteopath can be a beneficial treatment. Here are some of the most common injuries from climbing and how osteopathy can help:

Finger injuries

Climbing can put an incredible strain on the finger tendons, which can cause many injuries. Injury prevention is always the best method, so make sure you learn the pay attention to how you crimp and learn the correct techniques to use.

If you get injured, the most effective cure is to rest and not climb, but if you are a climber, you know that’s often not an option. Osteopathic treatment can help you continue to climb without risking further injury to your fingers.

Elbow injuries

Also commonly known as “tennis elbow,” elbow injuries can be painful and debilitating for your climbing and day-to-day life. Conditioning and strengthening can help keep your elbow tendons in good condition and prevent elbow injuries.

There is a range of elbow issues that climbers can suffer from, all with various treatments. Osteopaths can help diagnose and treat your specific injury effectively. Because osteopathic treatment is designed to support your body’s capacity for self-healing and promote well-being, they will be able to provide a range of treatments to heal and promote strength to prevent future injuries.

Shoulder injuries

Another part of your body that experiences a great deal of stress during climbing is your shoulder muscles. Climbers tend to be at a higher risk of shoulder impingements, a condition where your rotator cuff tendons are trapped and compressed during movements. This problem can result in severe shoulder pain during activities.

Strengthening your shoulders will help stability and prevent injuries. Osteopaths can perform a series of tests, assess your shoulder muscles for a range of motion and strength, perform ultrasounds and other scans if appropriate, and provide a range of treatment options.

Knee injuries

There is a vast range of knee injuries that climbers can experience, and because your knees are so closely connected to other parts of your body, such as your ankles and your hips, knee injuries can quickly throw much of your body out of balance.

After clinical examination, osteopaths will look for signs of ligament or tendon instability and other symptoms and offer holistic treatment to heal the knee and strengthen to prevent future injuries. Osteopaths will also ensure that other areas of your body are not affected by your injury.

If you’re experiencing discomfort or pain while climbing, osteopaths can help identify and treat all types of injuries. They have access to advanced testing while also using holistic treatment methods to treat the whole body so you can go back to climbing faster and stronger.  

Link Between Asthma and Back Pain

Image with Lower Back Pain

Asthma is a chronic condition that can lead to significant back pain. But what you may not know is that there is a link between asthma and back pain. While asthma is primarily associated with chest pain, there is back pain that people with asthma frequently get. The airway inflammation and coughing often cause this pain that asthma patients frequently suffer from; however, no documented link can say precisely why this is the case.

Is There a Link Between Asthma and Back Pain?

Back pain is a symptom that is pretty common for people who have asthma. You may notice the back pain more after you suffer from a bad asthma attack or a nasty battle with bronchitis. The back pain is primarily found in the upper back and lower back, which are areas where people suffer the most. There is some speculation that this could be due to the tightness that asthmatics tend to suffer regularly. This condition could also result from frequent and intense coughing, mainly when sick or having an asthma attack.

What Can You Do About It?

Do you suffer from back pain that may be associated with your asthma? Fortunately, there are some things that you can do that can help you. For one thing, you can make use of medications like NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) that you purchase over the counter. If you feel like these aren’t sufficient, you can try to speak to your doctor about your options and even potentially get medications like muscle relaxers to help you out.

You can also do some things that will help you relieve some of the tension that can lead to significant back pain. Sometimes it can be helpful to lay down on the floor while elevating your legs. This idea can be beneficial, primarily when you use techniques meant to release and relax your back. It would help if you also tried getting some rest. Reducing your stress level can help you be more in control of your asthma and your back pain.

You may find relief by using wet heat to use things like a hot shower or hot bath and a hot water bottle, giving your body the heat that it needs to relieve some of this pain. When you first feel the problem, you will want to start with ice for 48 hours. After that, rely on wet heat as needed to find relief.


People who have asthma tend to suffer from both back and chest pain; however, there’s no definitive link between asthma and back pain. Some studies have shown that people who have asthma suffer from back pain more than those without asthma. Fortunately, there are some things that you can do that will help you relieve this pain so that you can improve the quality of your life.

Osteopath for Runners’ Hip Pain

Running is a fantastic exercise and can bring a wealth of benefits such as improving cardiovascular health, building strong bones, strengthening muscles, and maintaining a healthy weight. Running, however, can also be hard on joints, and hip pain and injuries are common. Osteopathy is a form of treatment that gives a holistic approach to healing, focusing on the musculoskeletal system, which can help treat hip pain. Here is a guide to some common running hip conditions and how osteopath can help:

Muscle strain

Tendonitis and muscle strain can happen when your hip muscles are overused, resulting in aches and pains, particularly during runs. Severe cases of tendonitis will require medical treatment, as well as rest. An osteopath can help diagnose and treat tendonitis holistically, using massage and acupuncture techniques to promote muscle healing. 

Iliotibial band syndrome

This injury is a common affliction for runners and affects the outside of the hips and the knees. The iliotibial band is a connective tissue that runs on the outside of your hip, down your knee and your shinbone, and it becomes tight from repetitive movements like running. Stretching before and after running is a great preventative action, and osteopath treatment is a great way to treat Iliotibial band syndrome and prevent future injury. 

Muscle tendon bursitis

Bones, tendons, and muscles are cushioned by fluid-filled sacs. Actions like running that are repetitive can pressure these sacs, which inflames them and causes significant pain. When this happens, the most critical step you can take is to rest. IF, however, pain persists, osteopath treatment can help. Strengthening exercises, paired with holistic therapies like acupuncture, can help eliminate your hip pain.

Labral cartilage tears

The cartilage protecting your hip’s socket can be sensitive and can be torn from repetitive motion like running. Pain and clicking noises from the hip and movement sensitivity are all signs of labral cartilage tears. If you suspect this injury, you will likely undergo an x-ray or MRI to determine if this is the case. Osteopath and physical therapy are often critical to treat this injury, regain free movement, and reduce pain. 

Bone fractures

Breaking a bone is a severe injury and a hip bone even more so. Running does not generally cause this, but a collision or fall while running could. Fractures are often accompanied by severe pain and swelling, as well as limited motion. Immediate medical attention is required in bone fractures, and it is essential to continue holistic treatment to get back to running safely. Through massage, strengthening exercises, acupuncture, and other treatment types, osteopathy can contribute to a safe path to running and help prevent future injuries. 

It is not always clear what is causing hip pain as a runner. So, if you want to run as soon as possible, consider seeking the help of an osteopath. Holistic treatment can help strengthen your muscles and prevent future injuries in your hips, knees, ankles, and every other vulnerable part of a runner’s body.

Sports Massage for Sciatica

patient receiving lower back massage

Few things are better for aches and pains than a good massage. In terms of the different types of massage available, sports massage is one of the most well-rounded, appealing to both athletes and non-athletes alike. Sports massages are particularly useful in treating the limbs and extremities, making it ideal for combating sciatica pain. But to understand precisely why sports massage is so effective against sciatic nerve pain, we need to understand a bit about sciatica as a condition and the techniques used in sports massage therapy. 


What Is Sciatic Nerve Pain? 

The sciatic nerve is a nerve that begins in the lower back and runs down the leg. When the sciatic nerve is pinched or otherwise aggravated, it can cause a radiating pain or numbness, leaving your leg feeling like it is on pins and needles. It is this pain and numbness in which sports massage is most effective. 


What Techniques Are Used in Sports Massage?

 As a practice, sports massage therapy is named because it targets the soft tissues most easily strained by athletes, helping to loosen stiff muscles and relieve pain, such as the pain caused by sciatica. There are two different techniques used in a sports massage therapy session, each with another purpose. 

The initial technique, called effleurage, is a light touch that encourages the warming up of the muscles, making them easier to manipulate during the session. Depending on the pressure used in the effleurage at the beginning portion of the therapy session, blood and lymph fluid flow increase, helping to rid the muscles of any toxins that have built up. 

The second technique, called petrissage, is a firmer, squeezing touch that can help loosen knotted or spasming muscles, increasing the patient’s overall motion range. Sometimes, a quick rubbing of a particular spot, known as frictions, can help work out particularly knotted areas of tissue. 

The deeper, methodical stroking and squeezing of petrissage can help open up blood flow and the bodies’ lymphatic system, thereby removing toxins. As petrissage opens blood flow, it allows more reparative blood cells to reach an injury area, helping the patient look to use sports massage to recover from an injury, like a pinched nerve.


The Final Word 

With their varied approaches, sports massages make for the ideal treatment for aches and pains of all sorts, even of the pinched nerves that cause sciatic pain. In addition to working out the tissues, the massage can leave the patient feeling more relaxed and better overall. 

If the idea of a sports massage appeals to you, call your local massage parlor and ask if this is a service they offer. Occasionally, physical therapy practitioners may also have this as a service, or if they don’t, they would know of a place where you could get a sports massage.

Understanding the Crunching Sounds in Knees

It happens one day without warning. You go to get out of bed, and you’re greeted with two unpleasant sensations at the same time: Pain in your knees and an unpleasant crunching sound. The easiest answer may be to joke about the inherent risks of getting older, but there are genuine reasons for that terrible crunching sound and how those conditions can be treated. 

Let’s look at some of the potential causes of pain and popping in the knees and how a doctor may help. 

What’s the Problem?

Crepitus may read like the name of some Scandinavian mythological monster, but it’s the medical term for that crackling sound you hear in the knee. Crepitus may indicate benign conditions, but sometimes, it can be a signal of something more serious. 

  • Gas: Tiny gas bubbles can form around the knee joint, and those bubbles can pop when the knee bends. The good news is, this is normal and painless. 
  • Tendons and Ligaments: The knee joint is surrounded by tendons and ligaments that sometimes stretch and snap back into place. This condition is not an uncommon occurrence but may occasionally hurt. 
  • Structural Differences: Not everyone’s knees are created equal. Some people have more or less or different cartilage or tissue around the knees, making them more prone to cracking or popping. 

These instances occur, more or less, naturally and don’t necessarily indicate any sort of severe underlying cause. But sometimes, there is a bigger problem linked to crepitus, such as: 

  • Injury: The snapping and cracking of crepitus can be a byproduct of an injury.  Such injuries include a tear in the meniscus, a piece of cartilage in the knee. If the meniscus is torn, the knee’s cartilage may move about and cause pain and crunching. 
  • Osteoarthritis: As you age, or as you place more stress on your knees, you become more prone to developing osteoarthritis, a type of arthritis in which the cartilage over the joint wears away, increasing the odds of inflammation, pain, and crunching of the knee. 

What’s the Solution? 

There are several ways that crepitus can be treated, some of which can be done at home. Still, you should always consult a medical professional first regarding any new or worsening sensations, particularly if the crunching noise you hear is accompanied by pain. 

  • Medication: A doctor may prescribe or recommend medication to help treat pain and inflammation that may come with crepitus. 
  • Heat or Cold Therapy: Placing either a heating pad or ice pack on the area may help with pain or swelling that may cause or complicate the crepitus. 
  • Extra support: A knee brace may lend stability to crunchy knees, making them less crunchy. 
  • Rest: If the crepitus is caused by an issue like arthritis or an injury, staying off your feet will help.

A Final Word 

Crepitus as a sensation, is often more of a nuisance than an actual problem. Still, it is essential to know as much about its potential causes as possible to be effectively treated. 

The History of Sports Massage

what are the benefits of sports massage

Therapeutic sports massage is a technique that treats recreational activity-related injuries and pains. Modernly, this therapeutic massage practice is mainly used as a healing technique for athletes. Historically, these massage recovery techniques are used and developed as far back as 8000 BC. 



Dating back to 8000 BC, people in China used massage as a way to treat ailments. Ancient Persians and Indians also often healed through the art of massage techniques. In ancient Rome, they even used massage to help the gladiators recover after the Olympic battle games. Areas all around Asia and Europe used different forms of massage practices to heal aches and pains, which would be the first glimpses of what we now consider sports massage therapy to be. 

Later on, in history, but still dating back to way before modern medicine, other advances took place. In 100 AD, the first school of massage was opened in China. Much later down the road, in 1812, Henrik Ling, a gymnast and fencing master, combined Swedish massage with other exercises to create kinesiotherapy. This type of therapy, which applies scientific exercises to strength and endurance enhancement, was the first early modern step to today’s sports massage. 


Modern Medicine 

In 1900, the Finnish School of Massage developed the Sports Massage Methods, which outlined different therapies that use massage to help with activity-based injuries and pains. Later on, in 1924, Paavo Nurmi, a five-time gold medalist in the Olympics, popularized sports massage as a recovery technique when he claimed the therapy helped improve his performance. 

The popularization of sports massage grew and spread throughout Europe as well as throughout America. In the 1970s, M.D James Cyriax, the father of orthopedics, developed a deep friction technique that is still being used today. 

In 1986, the inclusion of sports massage in American athletes” training led to the National Sports Massage Team launch. 


Sports Massage Today 

Between the years 1996 and 2010, sports injuries were treated mainly with various techniques of massage therapy. With the growth in popularity of sports massage techniques and recognizing its genuine assistance in recovery from severe, painful injuries, it became the primary recovery technique for athletes. 

Modernly, becoming a sports masseuse requires a person to go through specific training. Generally, a person working to become a sports masseuse requires a post-secondary class of between 500 and 1,000 hours. Then, to acquire their license, they need to pass an exam. 

Medical professionals, and therapists like sports masseuses, know now that there are so many benefits to massage therapy, from assisting with pains and stiffness to increasing mobility. These various therapy techniques treat ailments from swelling and soft-tissue injuries to a restricted range of motion. 

Though it has evolved considerably from the time of ancient China, sports massage therapy continues to improve. Recently, professionals are focusing both on physiological and psychological approaches to sports injury remedies. 

Acupuncture and Tennis Elbow

acupuncture at copthall health

Acupuncture is a time-worn and popular method of holistic treatment for various aches and pains proven to be an effective treatment against multiple types of conditions, particularly those suffered by athletes. But would acupuncture work for such straining injuries as tennis elbow? 

Acupuncture has proven to be at least mildly effective in treating such conditions as tennis elbow. 

But to understand what makes the treatment effective, it is necessary to understand how tennis elbow presents as an injury, how acupuncture works as a practice, and the risks involved with the procedure. 


What Is Tennis Elbow? 

As the name might suggest, tennis elbow is an injury that is common among tennis players – and others who make repetitive motions with their arms or wrist. Tennis elbow occurs when the soft tissues and muscles in the arm and wrist become irritated. The chief symptoms of tennis elbow are pain and a limited range of motion. 


What is Acupuncture? 

The modern practice of acupuncture is derived from the ancient Chinese holistic medicinal approach meant to improve qi’s flow or life force energy, throughout the body, by inserting tiny needles into strategic points on the patient’s body. 


How Does Acupuncture Work?

During an acupuncture session, the acupuncturist inserts tiny needles to varying depths under the patient’s skin. In certain instances, the point of insertion may not be anywhere close to the area experiencing pain. For example, in the tennis elbow treatment, the acupuncturist may insert the needle into another part of the body to allow the nerve impulse to migrate to the injured area. 

Beyond the initial prick of the needle on your skin, you may not even feel it at all, depending on how sensitive you are to needles. The only uncomfortable sensation may be if the needle is manipulated directly on the sore spot.

The needles’ insertion helps to stimulate the nervous system and inhibits the neurological responses that transmit pain. Additionally, because the patient is relaxed and the muscles and soft tissues are being manipulated, serotonin and dopamine are being produced, which can have that same pain-mitigating effect, if not to block it altogether. 

Although acupuncture can be an effective treatment for aches and pains of different sorts, it may not be for everyone. It is best to consult a medical professional before undergoing any alternative practice. Acupuncture may pose risks for individuals with certain bleeding disorders, pacemakers, or who may be pregnant.  


A Final Word 

There isn’t a tremendous amount of concrete scientific study to back up the practice of acupuncture. But there are thousands of years’ worth of continual practice and patient testimony that lend credence to acupuncture as a way of treating pain. And for the sufferer of tennis elbow, a few sessions of acupuncture are well worth the ability to stop their pain, improve their range of motion, and feel better overall.