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Five common aches & pains easily explained – and how the right massage can help!


1. My shoulders or chest feel tight.
Do you notice by the end of the day you are slumping at the desk? This very typical work posture leads to the tightening of chest muscles – the ones responsible for pulling the shoulders forward. This subsequently weakens the opposite muscles (behind the shoulder) that pull the shoulder blades back and down. This leads to tight, clunky shoulders and PAIN.

How can massage help?
By facilitating release of the chest using breathing and gentle yet powerful movements, shoulders can be worked on, tight tissues made to melt away, and very easy-to-follow exercises given to strengthen posture.

2. It’s difficult to move my neck.
Do you have neck pain? Can’t turn your head around? Feel like you’ve ‘wrenched’ your neck? Often a gradual tightening of the muscles precedes a muscle tear; which in turn leads to a ‘spasm’ – where the muscles ‘lock’, and seem reluctant to let go.

How can massage help?
By focusing on releasing the muscles slowly the spasm can be eased, and muscles restored to a healthier range of motion. With a competent therapist, you should feel it happening quite quickly!

3. After I run/exercise I get a pain in my muscles.
Hamstrings feel tight or restrictive? Glutes (buttocks) painful? A knee feels like it’s being pulled off-centre? Often when we train hard the body responds the only way it knows – by yelping in pain! Good, hard training inevitably leads to an accumulation of natural toxic waste – the by-products of muscle activity. Whilst warm-downs, hot showers and stretching after activity can help shift these troublesome particles, sometimes the build up becomes too much, and intervention is needed.

How can massage help?
Massage ‘flushes’ out the muscles, and overworked, torn and knotted muscles can be ‘persuaded’ to go back to their original, healthy, functioning pain – free state!

4. I feel very stiff in the mornings, but it gets better throughout the day.
This is possibly because your body has been moving very little for several hours. Our bodies are made for MOVEMENT, and will ‘grumble’ at us if we hold them in static positions for too long.

How can massage help?
When investigating the source of the discomfort, we often find it is within tissues that are already tight from our daily routines. The long periods of static sleep are usually ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’. A good massage therapist can help review your daily routines, and look at the possible causes. This is in addition to manual deep-tissue, or sports massage, which will unlock tight tissues, and should provide a rapid and measurable amount of pain relief.

5. I can’t sleep at night, and it’s getting worse.
Thoughts rushing through your head? About today? About tomorrow? Chances are you’re breathing is shallow, and you’re exhibiting all the signs of the ‘fight or flight’ stress response.

How can massage help?
Breathing is the key in this scenario, along with exercises in mindfulness. A well trained, advanced massage therapist should be able to help you in this regard. It’s quite a specialist subject, so make sure you ask your therapist if they have experience in this area (all of the City Sports Massage team do). The idea is, by teaching our muscles when they are ‘on’ and when they are ‘off’, even the most stressed-out of us can learn to take back control of our sleep patterns. This is ironically achieved by initially relinquishing control of our muscles, and allowing ourselves to gain a knowledge of what soft, relaxed, loose muscles actually feel like.

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**Please note that you should consult your GP if you are in any doubt of your health condition**

Article © Jon Gee 2011

Jon Gee is the founder of City Sports Massage, a team of massage therapists in London who combine deep-tissue massage therapy with stress-reduction and body-awareness techniques.