Sports massage for the thigh muscles which can be used for injuries such as contusions and strains but only when the acute period has passed.
Aim - light stroking to warm up the area in preparation for deeper techniques.
- With the hands stroke lightly but firmly upwards from just above the patella to to the top of the thigh. Try to cover as much of the surface as possible with the hands.
- Always stroke upwards towards the heart in the direction of blood flow. Veins have valves which prevent blood from flowing back the wrong way. Forcing it through with massage can damage the veins.
- Then lightly bring the hands down the outside of the leg keeping them in contact but do not apply pressure.
- Use slow, smooth movements. Many beginners tend to rush the massage techniques.
- Repeat the whole movement using slow stroking techniques, trying to cover as much of the leg as possible.
- Repeat this technique for about 2 to 5 minutes, gradually applying deeper pressure on the up strokes.
Aim - To start to loosen the muscles and really increase the warmth.
- A kneading type technique.
- Move the muscles one way with one hand and the other way with the other.
- Try to cover the whole area of the thigh.
- Gradually apply more pressure.
Aim - to apply sustained pressure to the muscle, ironing out any lumps, bumps and knots.
- With the thumb of the right hand (for the left leg), apply deep sustained pressure along the full length of the muscle.
- This technique should be slow and deliberate to 'feel' the muscle underneath. A good therapist will gradually build up a mental picture of exactly where the tension and scar tissue is in the muscle.
- The thumb can be reinforced using the thumb or two fingers of the other hand.
- Repeat this 3 to 5 times in a row, alternating with petrissage for 5 to 10 minutes.
- If the therapist comes across any tight, tender knots in the muscle (usually at the point of strain or rupture), these can be worked out with deep circular frictions to the knot.
- Massage should be deep but not so deep that the athlete tightens up with pain.
- Apply sustained pressure with the heel of the hand along the length of the iliotibial band. This technique can be uncomfortable or even painful so start gently.
- Any lumps and bumps or particularly sensitive spots can be treated with deep, sustained pressure to these points using the thumbs. Increase the pressure on the spot until it ranks 7/10 on the pain scale (10 being painful). Hold this pressure until it eases off to 4/10 on the pain scale (usually about 5 seconds).
- Without easing off with the pressure, increase again until it reaches 7/10 on the pain scale once more. Hold until it eases, repeat once more.
- This technique is very hard on the thumbs. It is important to keep the thumb slightly bent (flexed) when applying pressure to avoid damaging the joints. Finger nails need to be short to apply this technique correctly.
- The therapist can finish off with more petrissage techniques and then finally effleurage again. The whole process need not last more than half an hour.
- Massage therapy can be applied every day if it is performed lightly however deeper techniques may result in a days recovery period to allow tissues to 'recover' just like they would after a training session.
- For rehabilitation of muscle strains, sports massage is very important in softening / preventing scar tissue forming at the site of injury and re-aligning the new healing fibres in the direction of the muscle fibres. This will help prevent re-injury.