Aches Away ...
Kaleidoscope guest David Rawlings will be on site at the Crucible for the Mamut English Open, offering free sports massages to the players in the main draw as they strive to win the first title of the new season. Here he explains the benefits of Sports Massages for squash players ...
The Demands Of Squash
& The Role Of Sports Massage
Many of us would naturally think of a marathon runner as being extremely fit. But their defining quality, endurance, is just one aspect of an individualís overall fitness level. In Squash too skill and tactics must exist alongside a high level of fitness, which includes many elements.
The demands of a squash game are so that the intensity and duration of a match are never the same.
The energy for a game will by and large be made aerobically (with oxygen), but some rallies will require supramaximal bursts which are anaerobic and will cause a temporary oxygen debt. This eventually results in fatigue, down to the build up of lactic acid in the muscles.
Strength and power, normally associated with bodybuilders and weightlifters, are equally important on the squash court. The leg and shoulder muscles are involved in lots of concentric and eccentric contractions (acceleration and deceleration of movement).
The back and abdominal muscles must be sufficiently conditioned to create and control the dynamic rotatory movements involved in the game. Explosive power is essential for getting to shots and recovering the T which deprive your opponent of time and apply the necessary pressure needed to win. Speed around the court relies on developing the correct neuro-muscular patterns so that the feet are able to move quickly and effectively.
Potentially the least considered, yet most vital, elements are mobility and flexibility. As well as for prevention of injury and recovery after matches this element if developed sufficiently will improve efficiency of movement and overall performance on court.
Hopefully the above illustrates that, as with any sport played at a high level, squash places huge demands on the athlete both physically and mentally.
As we have seen from the English national Football and Rugby teams recently, sports massage is quickly becoming an essential part of any athletes training programme.
The management, manipulation and rehabilitation of the soft tissues of the body are where the sports massage practitioner has an important role to play.
It is envisaged that both now and increasingly in the future massage practitioners will work closely alongside Doctors and Physiotherapists. By regularly moving and manipulating the soft tissues (muscles, tendons, nerves, fascia etc.) we may improve circulation, reduce adhesions, re-align scar tissue and potentially make the tissues function with more efficiency overall.
However, sports massage is still open to criticism due to the lack of solid research, and rightly so. If the discipline is to sit alongside trusted medical practices then the evidence base must increase. Thankfully the work of the Sports Massage Association and others is continually improving its credibility.
The anecdotal evidence is abundant and its use by top athletes suggests that it definitely has a role to play.
Sports massage will be available to the players at the English Open with the clear aims of improving recovery from match play and preparing the players for optimal performance.
I will be providing complimentary Sports Massage sessions at this year's English Open, this service will be open to all players.
I will be available from the Thursday until the end of the tournament.
Ideally I would aim to see every player each day of the event (from Thursday onwards).