MASSAGE FOR WINTER SPORTS – Unfortunately, the vast majority of people who participate in many outdoor winter sports do not properly prepare themselves ahead of time for the stress these activities can place on their bodies. Furthermore, most do not live close enough to an area where they can engage in these activities on a regular basis.
At best, they end up hitting it hard on the weekends or, more likely, packing as much activity as possible into sporadic stints of a week here or long weekend there. As a result, a combination of a lack of proper preparation and intermittent yet intense periods of activity can frequently lead to post-exercise soreness, strained and pulled muscles—or worse.
A sports massage therapist can do a few things to help this type of client. there are four different types of sports massage: general massage, pre-event massage, post-event recovery massage and injury massage. For most individuals involved in winter sports, massage can be consolidated into two categories: general pre-activity massage and post-activity recovery massage.
For both types of sports massage, it is useful to go through a series of range-of-motion tests before the session to look for areas that may be tight and restricting normal movement, and again after the massage to examine how the treatment has impacted these restrictions.
General Pre-Activity Massage
General pre-activity massage should focus on loosening up the muscles that are primarily engaged during that sport and preparing the body to perform the best it possibly can. The work should combine slow, controlled strokes with compressions and kneading. The pressure should be deep enough to be effective, yet not so deep that your client’s body fights you by resisting and tensing up. It is also beneficial to incorporate some assisted dynamic stretching, such as Active Isolated Stretching, into part of your session.
Post-Activity Recovery Massage
Post-activity recovery massage should be geared toward helping the body recover more quickly from an activity, while at the same time addressing any muscle strains or pulls. It should combine flushing strokes using moderate pressure with trigger-point therapy and movement techniques, such as pin-and-stretch or Active Release Technique. Static stretches of 30 to 45 seconds can also be incorporated after massaging a muscle or region. A cold whirlpool or ice bath for 10 minutes is a great way to top off the end of the session.
Regardless of which type of massage you are giving, it is important to understand the muscles that experience the most stress for each of the more popular winter sports. Outlined below are five recreational winter activities and the primary muscles that are engaged during those activities.
The entire way down the mountain, downhill, or alpine, skier is essentially maintaining a quarter-squat position. The rectus femoris, vastus intermedius and gluteus maximus bear the brunt of the workload, as they are in a constant state of contraction. A large part of the massage should focus on these two regions.
Other muscles that are stressed in the lower body during downhill skiing include the peroneus longus, biceps femoris, adductor longus and gluteus medius. Although the upper body is usually not heavily involved, it may also be worthwhile to check certain muscles around the shoulders including the rhomboids, trapezius, latissimus dorsi, pecs and deltoids as well as the erectors down the spine.
Snowboarders stress their bodies a bit differently than downhill skiers do. The core plays a key role in moving a snowboarder down a slope. As a result, the low back has to do a significant amount of work.
You should start by working the quadratus lumborum, multifidi, external obliques and psoai. The gastocnemius, soleus and tibialis anterior of the lower legs should also be massaged, as they are fundamental to the heel-toe motion that occurs when snowboarding. The hamstrings and quadriceps muscles should also be checked.
Beginners who fall a number of times also stress their wrists and shoulders. Snowboarders who end up spending a lot of time on the ground usually require work on the forearm flexors and extensors as well as supraspinatus and subscapularis.
“MASSAGE FOR WINTER SPORTS”
About the Author
Mark Fadil is the co-founder of Sports Medicine Institute, a performance center which focuses on sports and orthopedic massage, in Palo Alto, California. He is also the founder of PHLX, a comprehensive foam roller system that empowers the user to recreate hands-on techniques utilized by skilled massage therapists. He wrote “Sports Massage for Runners” and “Massage for Golfers: Keep Your Clients on the Course” for MASSAGE Magazine.