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The Phil Brown Massage Studio

Can deep tissue massage POSITIVELY AFFECT performance?

March 4th, 2019 by Phil Brown

 

I received the following text from a deep tissue massage client on the second day following their treatment session:

“You sir are a miracle worker. Felt a bit tight on my run, but took 8 minutes off my 10k time today!”

It is always really, really encouraging to hear feedback like this. Eight minutes is a SERIOUS amount of time to reduce your existing 10k time by and GREAT word of mouth for a massage therapist. This made me think…..it’s not the first time that deep tissue or sports massage has been identified as a very positive factor in sports performance, but the reasons why remain somewhat woolly……there has not been any scientifically proven evidence that getting a sports or deep tissue massage guarantees improved athletic recovery and performance, yet there are many athletes who include regular massage treatment in their schedule.

So, if deep tissue massage does positively affect performance, what are the ways that it might do this?

1. Massage can relax and lengthen overused and tight muscles

Training involves overuse. It is the overuse – but not too much – of muscles that stimulates the process of getting stronger that occurs in training.  Too much work and the result will be injury, but enough hard work and muscles adapt by getting HENCH. However, this process means that muscles ALSO get tired and sore and somewhat tight!  Any training programme worth its  salt will factor in enough rest and recuperation so that your muscles get time to not only recover but get a little bit stronger as a result of the level of “overuse” they were put through in training.
Many of us will be familiar with the sore feeling following intense training. It might hurt a bit but this type of soreness can be a good sign – a sign that your muscles were stressed enough to respond and get stronger.
The soreness wears off as the muscles are given time to rest and relax. Deep tissue massage seems to help this process of recovery by relaxing and lengthening the muscles with the deep, slow work of massage! Ask someone how their trained and tired muscles feel following a decent deep tissue session and it’s likely they may use words like “lighter” and “freer”…….

 

2. Massage may stimulate blood flow to the areas being treated

Blood! It’s the stuff of NUTRIENTS and LIFE!!! Deep tissue massage is a stimulating process and the mixture of “good” pain and pressure on the areas being treated may encourage increased local blood flow to the area and that rosy glow the person being treated can experience may be the result of that. This process may speed up the recovery needed for effective engagement in the next training session.

 

3. Dramatic improvements in performance may be due to long-held tension being released

It is my view that many of us engaged in regular training are significantly tighter than we think. Regular stretching is skimped on and the stress of training means that we go into each training session with  pre-existing levels of muscle and connective tissue tightness that simply don’t  go away. Indeed, without regular and targeted stretching or mobility sessions, range of motion in joints can be lost and never found!
Such limitations IMPEDE athletic performance without us even knowing it. This is why the feeling following targeted deep tissue treatment can be so pleasant and profound – we never knew we were bound up until we got freed up!

Dramatic improvements in performance following deep tissue massage work, may be due to the joints – acted upon by the previously tight muscles – being freed up to move with more range and effectiveness.

 

4. Massage feels GREAT!!!

Deep tissue massage certainly can “reconnect” an athlete with their body. Treatment for example through the thighs and hips makes the athlete more aware of these muscles and this part of their body and may enhance the “brain-body” connection that allows for better, more efficient performance in training and competition.

Regular, hard training without the “TLC” of a sports masseur or therapist may also have the opposite effect – tighter and tighter muscles that feel dull or don’t feel much at all!

Bottom line? None of the above has yet been scientifically proven, but get yourself treated regularly  and FEEL the difference – in your body and your mind and in your chosen sport! A bit of TLC for your hard working body goes a LONG way. Regular, deep and thorough massage from an experienced and empathetic therapist goes EVEN FURTHER!

 

 

Massage – the “feel-good” foundation.

January 25th, 2019 by Phil Brown

My initial training was at the London School of Sports Massage. There, I learned to use my hands – my whole body really – to improve the well being of the people I worked with. That training remains, 10 years on, the strong foundation of how I work in my clinic today.

Massage forms the basis of all of my treatment sessions; whether there is a lot of time spent with it or a little; it is the therapeutic tool that provides the environment for promoting well being and recovery from injury.

What makes massage such an effective basis for manual therapy? In the simplest terms I can think of right now, massage makes us feel really good and feeling really good is a powerful ground for recovery from injury and for general well being.

Even if you are not currently nursing an injury or struggling with some kind of chronic pain pattern, book in for a deep massage. If the therapist knows their stuff, you won’t leave feeling the same way you did when you arrived. A good massage session can make you remember what it feels like to feel better, to feel good. Then, you can take that feeling out into your daily life. Massage can be a deeply relaxing experience. Hands-on work on the body can have a direct and profound effect on the nervous system. As muscles are worked and relax, breathing can relax to into its more natural rhythm. Blood pressure can lower and the mind slows down from its usual constant chatter. All of these effects are healthful, beneficial.

There are times when the effects above are the central reason for a treatment session. A sense of well being is restored as the body is relaxed and enlivened by deep tissue massage. When the client gets up and moves, they often feel of lighter and freer in their movement. When the body is relaxed and moving more naturally, the mind and emotions are also affected positively and some balance is restored where before there may have been tension and stress holding sway.

Often, I have worked with patients who have injured a joint or area of the body through overuse or accident in sport or training. Here, massage and soft tissue manipulation techniques can be very effective in restoring range of motion quickly to a stiff and sore joint. If the level of pain free movement can be restored initially by sports massage techniques, this is a very hopeful sign that rehabilitation will be successful and that the injury is not too serious. Using massage in this way is a great indicator of the likelihood of recovery through movement and exercise. Obviously this gives great encouragement to the patient and they are more likely to engage positively with their exercise programme of rehabilitation.

In both types of treatment – massage for overall well being and massage as part of a treatment plan and programme for rehabilitation – massage brings the very definite effect of making us feel better, feel good. To feel relaxed and calm is a wonderful feeling. To feel increased freedom in the body can be a relieving and liberating feeling. The massage techniques that I was trained in 10 years ago achieve these feelings in the people I work with. That is why they are such a powerful ground for the therapeutic and rehabilitative work I do.

Phil Brown Massage now on Facebook

April 26th, 2010 by Phil Brown

You can now become a Fan of Phil  Brown Massage on Facebook. Enjoy benefits like regular notifications of new articles, tips and advice appearing on the website. You can also receive a FREE 30 minute sports massage taster session or 30 minute fitness consultation at the clinic if you have a contribution to the new discussion boards at Facebook.

It just went ping……I wasn’t doing anything with it, honest!

April 9th, 2009 by Phil Brown

Accessory to the fact

These other muscles are the ACCESSORY muscles to the exercise I am doing. An example is the good old bench press. We men like the bench press for three reasons:

1. We can lie down.

2. We can pump up our manly chest muscles.

3. Its an easy exercise to get strong at and feel impressive.

However, many of us don’t take into account all the muscles involved in the movement of the bench press. Sure, we like to focus on the big pectoral muscles as we squeeze that bar up. And that focus is a good thing, since these are the primary muscles we want to affect. There are other muscles hard at work however and when it comes to an injury, it is rarely the big powerful pecs that get damaged in the bench press.

A pressing problem

The rotator cuff are a group of muscles that work to stabilise the shoulder joint during an exercise such as the bench press. It is these muscles that – in this movement – are working in an accessory role. Injury to these muscles can occur when the load placed on the pectorals and the shoulder joint is too much for these stabilising muscles to cope with as they fight against the more explosive powerful forces of the chest muscles. Rotator cuff injury is a common one in men overtraining and overloading their bench presses.

The “invisible” cause

A large percentage of people at most big gyms are not even aware of the accessory muscles in a movement. Hence, when they get injured, it is sometimes hard for them to identify the primary cause of the injury. In the case of rotator cuff injury from bench press, it is hard for people to make the connection between a shooting pain or ache down the upper arm (one possible symptom of rotator cuff tendon damage) and the heavy chest exercises they were doing the week before.

“Ping!”

In other cases, someone may be doing an intense resistance exercise to work one muscle group.  Suddenly, they get a sharp pain somewhere they were not expecting. They might come to the massage clinic saying “It just went ping…..I wasn’t doing anything with it, honest!”

Hamming it up

I have an excellent example of just this. Me. This morning. While doing a resistance exercise focusing on my shoulder retractors and mid/upper back muscles. I got hurt. But not where I would have expected. Silly me. And I should know better.

I was doing cable rows. I love cable rows. I am good at them. I make sure to keep my lower back stable and smoothly pull through into my belly and squeeze my shoulder blades together. I have good form. I did not expect to get injured. I did not anticipate the sharp sharp pain. In my upper hamstrings. I was not TRAINING my hamstrings!

The sharp pain and nasty tightness occurred on the sixth or seven repetition of a set of around eight or nine. The reason is this:  as the primary muscles involved in the movement began to tire and weaken (my back and arms), I began to “cheat” the movement with other muscles. The hamstrings are HIP EXTENSORS.  As I sat with a flexed hip pulling a heavy weight towards me in a rowing fashion, my hamstrings were bravely stabilising me  AGAINST hip extension. They were activated and tight, but not moving, SO I DIDN’T NOTICE THEM. Then, when I started to “cheat” and moved my lower back a little into extension because I was tired, my hips extended a little and my already tight hamstrings cramped and got damaged.

This had never happened before! I wasn’t doing anything honest! It just went ping!

The “silent” partners

I had forgotten about the “silent” muscles in a movement. This meant that I had not stretched and warmed up my lower body before beginning the more intense phase of my workout. My hamstrings were ready to get injured due to some leg exercises they were still tired from a few days before, plus I had been spending alot of time sitting down working at a computer. In this position, the hamstrings are kept short for long periods. They need to be stretched and warmed up before exercise if you have spent a long period beforehand in one position.

Conclusions

Although I am not glad I got injured this morning, I can use it as a reminder of the following:

1. Warm up your WHOLE body before a workout. Make sure your muscles are warmed and stimulated ready for the more intense work to come.

2. Familiarise yourself with your different muscle groups and their roles in movement, so you know what the primary AND accessory muscles are in each of your exercises.

3.Make sure you are doing the exercise correctly and efficiently. Many injuries happen in very slight, everyday movements we make without thinking. Something goes “ping!”  in a muscle group that has been constantly worn out by overuse in imbalanced exercises.

4. Never think about one muscle in isolation. Although there are exercises in the gym that you can to effectively isolate a muscle (e.g preacher bench bicep curls) – you can never truly isolate one muscle, since your whole body is always using many muscles to stabilise you in a position or a movement.

Tony Dobbie

January 27th, 2009 by Phil Brown

Ex RAF pilot Tony Dobbie is one of varied people from different walks of life who have benefitted from remedial massage treatment. Read his account of how treatment at Phil Brown Massage helped him to return to the activities he thought he would have to stop.

“I’m 70 years old, but still quite active – both of choice and necessity! We live in an old welsh farmhouse, complete with large outbuildings and about half an acre of garden, all of which require a fair bit of upkeep. Such maintenance involves cutting over 125 metres of hedges, repairing and building dry stone walls and fences and cutting, sawing and chopping timber. Strong winds are more the norm here than the exception, so on occasion storm damage requires me to climb up on the roof to replace and repair slates.

I have been very fortunate in my health during my working life. However, during my teens I had a number of sudden arrivals on the ground – while working on a hayrick on a farm, falling off a parallel beam in a gymnasium and a couple of cycling accidents. All these accidents usually resulted in me landing on my back or on my shoulders.

Some years ago I was stationed at RAF Valley as a flying instructor. In my 40th year I had to eject from an aircraft, which resulted in 2 compression fractures in my back. I returned to flying after 3 months and continued flying for some 10 years after that with no ill effects. However, during the last 5 years in particular, ANY physical work has resulted in some of my shoulder and neck muscles becoming very stiff. The pain usually started about 2 or 3 days after some activity, commencing on one side of my shoulders and neck, before travelling up into my head and then the next day transferring to the other shoulder and commencing all over again. This resulted in tension headaches that lasted for some 24 hours, all of which was quite distressing for my wife and me, so much so that I was almost at the point of thinking that any outdoor physical activity would have to be given up permanently. However, a friend recommended Phil Brown to me and after only 3 sessions of treatment I have not suffered these back pains. I can whole heartedly recommend Phil Brown’s massage therapy. Since I commenced his course of treatment and instructions on how to alleviate further stress, I have been able to recommence all my former activities.”

Work inside the treatment studio at Phil Brown Massage

December 11th, 2008 by Phil Brown

Phil works with a variety of people.

Phil works with a variety of people.

Relaxation is key for effective, meaningful results from massage treatment.  Many patients need effective stretching techniques applied to muscle groups that have become short and tense through overuse or inactivity.

The studio at Phil Brown Massage provides an environment that is personable, warm and friendly. Lacking the clinical atmosphere that many can find threatening, patients are quickly at their ease and able to relax and enjoy participating in their treatments.

Phil uses muscle energy technique to relax and lengthen tight hamstrings

A major contributant to overuse injuries in runners is lack of flexibility.

The studio is situated in Llandaniel on the island of Anglesey, an area rich in outdoor beauty where a strong culture of outdoor sports and activities exists.  Half an hour from the studio in each direction are the mountains of Snowdonia and the beaches around the coast of Anglesey.

Sports like rock climbing and sea kayaking are very popular and Phil has provided treatment for practitioners of these and other sports, helping them recover from injury and return to getting out in the great welsh outdoors as soon as possible!

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