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Articles - Young Champions - Sports Massage for Kids

September 9, 2008
Young Champions - Sports Massage for Kids

SPORTS MASSAGE THERAPY FOR DEVELOPING FUTURE CHAMPIONS

 

From generation to generation we attempt to push the boundaries of sport, to go faster, higher, longer, further, in the shortest possible time.  We push for Gold, starting at primary school level and ending (hopefully) with the Olympics or World Cup. We encourage our children to participate in sport from Grade 1 (if not younger) and naturally that's a good thing. They need to avoid becoming couch spuds & to get out into the fresh air, to exercise their bodies & minds, to enjoy the outdoors, build team spirit & discipline etc. But with this comes the potential for injury and for a number of reasons children are particularly susceptible.

Due to the fact that they are still growing & developing, children (under the age of 10 in particular) are not as coordinate and their reaction times are slower than an adult's. Quite often there is a difference in height & weight between children of the same age and in a lot of contact sports this increases the risk for acute injury dramatically. Then there is repetitive strain injury (RSI). Think of young swimmers, who swim in excess of 40 laps during training. The continual overhead motion causes stress on the shoulder joint and its associated ligaments & muscles. This leads to repetitive strain injury resulting in pain in the back of the shoulder and even into the neck.   

Enter Sports Massage Therapy. It is one of the only therapies that may be safely applied as a preventative measure, since one of its main benefits is to lower the risk of  injury during sports participation.  During sports massage therapy special techniques are applied to the relevant muscles & tendons, as well as the ligaments of the joints.  These massage techniques result in increasing local blood circulation, bringing oxygen & vital nutrients to the muscles and removing waste that builds up after exercise. Muscle tissue become more flexible in a way that may not be possible with functional exercise, giving the child a greater range & freedom of movement. The nervous system is also positively affected by the massage in that it stimulates the nerve receptors in the tissues which control tissue tension. The reflex effect in response to touch, warmth & pressure leads to further relaxation of tissues & a reduction in pain.

After participation in competitions and stenuous training sessions sports massage therapy will virtually eliminate stiffness (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) commonly felt 2 -3 days afterwards, thereby reducing recovery time and allowing the young athlete to begin practicing as soon as possible. 

Sports massage therapy does not take the place of adequate warm-ups & training sessions before practices & competitions but it does go a long way in enhancing performance, aiding recovery & reducing injury, irrespective of age, level of fitness or level of training.  

Sports Massage Therapy should only be applied by a qualified Sports Massage Therapist.

 

LORRAINE GREYLING
Dip. Sports Massage Therapy & Reflexology, Port Elizabeth