We all believe in injury prevention, especially if you are a part of a physical lifestyle such as gym-goers, athletes, dancers, chefs, tradesmen, nurses, and even massage therapists! We all are aware that we need to protect our bodies so that we do not overstep the body’s boundary that can result in injury. So this blog will be breaking down what musculoskeletal injury prevention is and how massage can help prevent our musculoskeletal system from becoming injured.
What is Musculoskeletal Injury Prevention?
Firstly, let’s separate the terms musculoskeletal, injury, and prevention to get an idea of what those three words actually mean.
Musculoskeletal: a system that includes your connective tissues, bones, ligaments, tendons, and cartilage. The skeleton provides a framework for our muscles and supports the weight of our body.
Injury: damage to our body
Prevention: the action of stopping something from arising or happening
So to put it all together musculoskeletal injury prevention is: the action to stop or prevent damage to our musculoskeletal system.
So what are the characteristics of musculoskeletal injuries? It can be characterised as pain (often ongoing) that can limit our range of motion, dexterity or fine motor skills (e.g. hands and fingers), and overall function to be able to physically work, exercise, or experience life the way we would like to. Some common musculoskeletal injuries are lower back issues, carpal tunnel syndrome, trigger finger, muscle strain/sprains, headaches, tendonitis, fractures, and many more. Its symptoms depend on what type of musculoskeletal injury it is but there are common similar symptoms such as swelling, inflammation, reduced or limited range of motion, loss of function, unable to put weight onto the injured area.
Musculoskeletal injuries can be avoided by keeping these 6 practices in mind:
Knowing our limits (be aware of how our body is feeling)
For the competitive set amongst us - expanding those limits in a considered way
Change up repetitive movements to avoid repetitive strain injuries
Maintain proper posture whether this be in the workplace or the gym
Try and practice a healthy lifestyle (good nutrition, drink lots of water, moving our body frequently, etc.)
Receiving regular maintenance massage treatments to recover our muscles
How can massage therapy help the prevention of musculoskeletal injuries?
Massage therapy is known to help keep our muscles healthy, reduce fatigue and improve our daily performance. Injuries usually happen due to our muscles constantly working and not being able to recover properly. We can develop adhesions or knots that decrease our range of movement and create our muscles to become tight and stiff, without proper recovery these can result in injuries such as tears or strains.
Adhesions or ‘knots’ can be described as a small bundle of collagen fibers that is all bunched up together due to overworking a certain muscle that results in a lack of blood flow and decreased oxygen and nutrients within the fibers. Adhesions can usually be felt like a hard bump and can be painful when pressure is applied. Adhesions restrict movement and cause tightness within a certain area of our body. They are most commonly found on our neck, shoulders, back, and legs, however, they can be found anywhere within our body.
There are two common types of massage that are used to prevent musculoskeletal injuries and help eliminate adhesions within our muscles, they are Deep Tissue Massage and Sports Massage.
Deep Tissue Massage
Deep tissue massage helps injury prevention by breaking down adhesions or commonly known as ‘knots’ within our muscles. This technique is used to prevent injuries by involving a variety of pressures on the soft tissues. The pressure that is performed can be adjusted according to personal preferences. Deep tissue massage can help break down these adhesions by increasing the temperature of the collagen fibers and increasing blood flow and nutrients to areas that are restricted. Receiving a deep tissue massage can increase our range of movement and help our muscles recover from the work we expect of them daily.
Sports massage is a common technique used to help athletes improve their performance whether that is before or after training. It can include stretching, deep tissue techniques, vibration or tapotement techniques to help stimulate the muscles, myofascial release, and relaxation techniques for recovery or after training. It helps prevent injuries for athletes by increasing blood flow/circulation, feeding more oxygen and nutrients to muscles, and can also increase range of movement so that athletes can perform specific movements better. The massage therapist will discuss with the athlete what sports they are involved in and what training stage they are in so that there is a personalised treatment plan to achieve sports goals.
We classify both sports and deep tissue as Maintenance Massage, our therapists are highly trained and will work with you to ensure you get the best treatment for what’s going on with your body. Booking a Maintenance Massage is ideal if you have general aches, are doing a lot of physical activity or are planning to compete in an event.
Receiving regular maintenance massage treatments not only can help prevent musculoskeletal injuries but can also help increase our range of movement! We will be talking more about the benefits of maintenance massage and range of movement in the 5th of our blog series.