To the athlete, it is always important to improve performance, and stave off injury while keeping the body strong. Therefore, more and more Complimentary and Alternative Medical (CAM) practices are finding their ways into locker rooms from the Olympics to the NFL. One of the most popular of these CAM techniques is therapeutic massage. More and more trainers are using massage therapies to provide an advantage to their athletes, before, during, and after competition.
Massage is an integral part of conditioning and training for any strenuous activity. Massage helps to prevent injury prior to participating in sports or exercise by taking warming up and stretching to a new level. Massage after participation helps return muscles and joints to a relaxed state, and can also treat the pain of minor sports related injuries common to any athlete after a game or match.
In addition to the treatment of sprains and strain, therapeutic massage can be used to relax trigger points. Trigger points are a kind of sports injury. Trigger points are not bruises. They are commonly described as “knots” or points of tension. They are painful when touched, and this pain often radiates to other areas of the body. Sports massage can unwind these knots, and relax the trigger points.
Most often, sports medicine practitioners employ traditional Western or Swedish Deep Tissue Massage on their patients. Increasingly, trainers are realizing the benefits of Oriental Massage techniques such as Reiki, Shiatsu and Tui Na, just as they are seeing the advantages to athletes of other traditional Chinese medicine practices such as Qi gong, tai ji, and acupuncture.
Chinese Sports Medicine
Much as there has become a practice in allopathic healthcare known as Sports Medicine, there is a branch of TCM that could be considered a kind of “Chinese Sports Medicine”. The practice involves the use of Tui Na soft tissue massage, acupuncture, and the full range of TCM modalities, specifically for the treatment and prevention of sports related injuries. China has an “athletic” tradition that reaches back as far into antiquity as traditional Chinese medicine – the Martial Arts. Since much of the true Master’s of the martial arts prowess depends on his or her ability to control and focus Qi, it is only logical that TCM would have developed modalities to specifically treat injuries related to the martial arts. In fact, in ancient China many Monks and other Martial Arts Masters were also “doctors,” sought out for their skills in the healing arts.