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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Martin

Your body isn't lots of separate pieces, it's all interconnected.

The Bigger Picture – Sports/Remedial Massage Therapy

Your body doesn’t work as lots of separate pieces it is all interconnected.

Qualified Sports Massage Therapists (Level 4) are trained to look at the big picture.

So, don’t be surprised if you come to us with knee pain and find that we are looking at your back and your general posture. Your knee pain may be the result of an imbalance in your lower back causing you to shift your weight and equally your back pain may be the result of a poor movement pattern in your lower limbs. For that reason, we may watch you walk on the spot or up and down a corridor.

Read on to understand what we can do for you.


1. I once had a client who had badly ruptured the ligaments in one ankle when he twisted it whilst running. He had a big event coming up he was determined to complete, so he carried on training which meant that he had ankle pain when running. He also had pain whilst working which was largely standing on his feet so he tried to compensate to take some of the strain off (weight shift). It was probably two years after the initial injury he was introduced to me. I then spent several months seeing this gentleman once a fortnight to work on the original injury and the imbalances that had occurred which had resulted in pains from his ankle to his neck.

2. I have a current client who has severe arthritis in her hand and wrist which has been getting worse in the last six months. There is nothing I can do about this; however she compensates by using movements in her shoulder to enable movements that previously came from the wrist. This is putting more strain on her neck and shoulder muscles and I can treat these to prevent other long-term problems such as a frozen shoulder occurring.

I often hear people say I think I might go and see my doctor first when I suggest that sports massage would be beneficial. Most (not all) GPs know very little about bio-mechanical injury and the common responses to knee pain are:

For children along the lines of ‘it’s just growing pains/ rest for a few weeks it will get better/ it could be Osgood-Schlatter disease’.

In older adults ‘it’s probably arthritis -take these pain killers’.

If you are sent for physiotherapy you might get lucky but most NHS physiotherapists simply do not have the time to do what is necessary and are often inclined to just look at treating the symptoms of the condition rather than the cause. They may simply give you a standardised home exercise sheet for people with knee pain (or whichever joint you suffer with).

Now evidence shows pain killers do not work long-term, they become ineffective over time your body just gets used to them.

Evidence also shows that exercise is the best treatment for arthritis as it:

1. Increases the production of synovial fluid – the body’s own oil for the joints.

2. Exercising a joint through a large range of movement will keep the muscles around the joint more elastic which reduces the stress on the joint.

3. Appropriate exercises teaching correct joint alignment can reduce the friction in a joint because alignment is improved over time meaning less friction between some surfaces.

(massage will aid both 2 and 3 above to occur more quickly).

Children may get growing pains and Osgood-Schlatter is part of this in some cases. Often this occurs in active children that don’t stretch. The muscles are too tight and as the bones grow longer the muscles do not stretch and grow at the same rate. Massage will help with this. If a child has an actual muscle tear they may recover fine but a build-up of scar tissue in the muscle can lead to reduced flexibility. Again, sports massage will help.

Where physiotherapy may focus on simply building up the muscles around the knee it will rarely work. As I said earlier, if the issue is weight shift from higher up causing you to put an uneven pressure through your knee joint and that movement pattern isn’t corrected the issue will persist. We must look at the bigger picture. We must correct this through addressing all the imbalances through massage and where appropriate also through exercise routines.

Your part as a client is to do the exercises and/or stretches you are advised to, if you want to get the best results. As in my first example you need to understand that persisting with a long-term injury may mean that it may take quite a few sessions to sort out all the issues/compensations that have built up over time. And you may have to question your priorities if you think that the treatment is too expensive. £40 per weekly or fortnightly appointment for several weeks may seem expensive but you are not paying for the massage you are paying for what the massage does. You are paying to be pain free.

If I asked you:

How much you would be willing to pay to be pain free instantly what would your answer be?

Or how much would you be willing to pay not to be in the same or progressively worse pain for the rest of your life what would your answer be?

If you have to pay for eye tests or dental treatment what you really pay for is to be able to see things clearly or to eat without pain, and sports massage is no different you pay for the result and not the treatment.

If you want good results you need to employ someone who understands how to get those results! Check out the testimonials page on my website to get an idea of the results you could get if you make the decision to employ me.

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