By Sheree Phelps of Podium Therapies

Why is massage so important?

“Saying massage is important in general, is like saying a healthy diet is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Having muscles that are looked after, niggle free and full of the right balance of nutrients, minerals and blood flow helps a muscle function properly. A Elite sports person will have needs that are different from someone who doesn’t exercise, but is in equal need of massage. This is because at the elite end of the scale, your muscles are at peak performance, but training too hard or a potential injury on the brink can tip the scale to injury. Massage can help use this as a preventative to stop injuries. Whereas the other end of the scale, no exercise at all, being elderly, or overweight, means muscles are stiff, inactive and no movement creates less healthy muscles, which can injure quickly when needed to work. For example, sat all day, then getting up to go to the door, a weak muscle may strain, tear or injure because it isn’t healthy tissue. For the people who fit the inbetween category, 9-5 working day, stay at home parents etc, injuries can occur because of stress and tension building up in muscles. Massage can also help prevent this. Massage can also be used to treat injuries, but prevention is always best”

Sheree was inspired to start Podium therapies after a 13 year career as an olympic rifle shooter!

Squash is high impact, what is the long term effects of this on our backs?

“For a squash player, squash is an agile high impact sport. This will have multiple areas that need to have an eye kept on with regular massage. Backs are the biggest area of muscle used in sports and everyday life, but squash can be a lot of low or high hits, bending to pick up the ball, potential of bumping into other players or even the wall. So the back is very much in demand. If not properly looked after, stretched, massaged, strength and conditioned niggles will start to show up. Lower back pain, obliques and hip pain from the agility side of the sport can show tension and be areas of stress. As well as the typical tennis elbow that is commonly shown up in racket sports. This will show up quicker than backs normally due to a smaller group of muscles being impacted and recruited when hitting the ball. Everyday tasks such as lifting a mug of coffee can show up twinges, which unless addressed soon can lead to further and longer complications later on”

What type of massage would you recommend for squash players, and how would regular massage be a benefit?

“I would always recommend a sports massage to squash players and anyone who plays sports or leads an active lifestyle. This is because anything can be caught early. If you find a sports massage therapist that also does holistic massage, that’s better, as you get the best of both worlds. If you want the relaxation side of things but want knots and niggles addressed they can. Some people see sports massage as too clinical and are fearful of the “pain” that we as therapists cause. This is from bad experiences and sports massage does not cause pain, it causes discomfort IF you have a niggles that needs sorting. You can’t go to the gym without sweating and aching, sports massage is similar as “no pain (should be discomfort) no gain. Sports therapists are more knowledgeable, have a deeper understanding of the body and the way it works and will have education and experience seeing and treating injuries before they happen”

What do other clients who play racket sports say about regular massage?

“I treat 2 squash players and 2 tennis players amongst a whole array of other sports. The common one is the underarm pit towards the shoulder blade (the serratous anterior muscle) Rotator cuff group of muscles and commonly elbows and forearms. Forearms from the racket grip, leading to elbow from grip and ball strike. Rotator cuff for agile strikes high low left and right, and underarm/ side of back for the lunges and agile dives for the ball. Another common show up is calf strains. Again from the quick change of foot placement needed for playing squash. All 4 players have regular massage when they are playing regularly. 3 have 1 a month and one player has 1 every fortnight. The fortnight player is probably in better muscle health as it is more preventative than MOT and sort out the niggles. The key is to warm up and maintain yourself as best as you can at home. 

Foam rollers, ironically tennis balls, self massage techniques can help. Most importantly warming up properly and down properly is key. Warm up should be a gentle walk or jog to warm the whole body and get blood flowing, with specific muscle stretches being saved for after, unless something feels specifically tight. 

Magnesium salts and gels are great for muscle hydration and electrolyte tablets are good for instant muscle hydration too”

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