The torture that is sports massage

Posted at 22:37 in Personal, Training

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it over the course of the past 7 months or so but I’ve been plagued by an “injury” to my left shoulder since around March time.  I use the inverted commas because I didn’t injure myself in the gym, I simply woke one morning thinking I’d slept a bit funny as my neck felt a little stiff.

As the months have gone on, the pain has got significantly worse until I could no longer stand it.  It’s waking me up in the night, my fingers are tingling with pins and needles, I can’t lift my left shoulder towards my ear and lifting my arms overhead is severely painful. Getting undressed has been an ordeal, I can tell you!

For a while, I rested it thinking maybe I’d tweaked it in the gym but it made no difference. I noticed the pain would get worse if I felt stressed but found that heat and mobilising the shoulder made it feel better.  I googled and googled, looking to match my symptoms to something but to no avail.

With my sports therapist living 150 miles away, I didn’t want to go to anyone new as I feel when you build a good relationship with a physio, who knows you and how you train, it’s hard to put that trust into someone new.

However, as I’ve been travelling back and forth to Walsall more often in the past couple of months, I could no longer put it off.

As you may recall, I’ve been visiting my man Marvin at West Midlands Injury Clinic for almost 3 years.

The guy is an absolute star, though I called him a few different “choice” words today ;-)

As did my gorgeous man…

So it would appear that I am suffering with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.  In simple terms, the blood vessels at the superior thoracic outlet are being compressed, which is causing severe pain in the neck, left trapezius and shoulder which radiates to the back, chest and also causes tingling and pins and needles in my fingers.  The pins and needles occurs mostly in the middle of the night and is apparently, a very common symptom.

As soon as Marv laid his hands upon me, he was concerned about the tension in the traps.  As he worked on me, he informed me that it was possibly the worst case he’d seen – my traps were solid with tension and in the 45 minute session, he wasn’t even close to relieving even half of it.  I think with the stress and worry over the course of the past few months with my dad’s illness and subsequent death, the tension has just exacerbated the problem, which is understandable.

It’s going to take several sessions to fully work out the traps but I have been given some advice as to massaging the area myself, Emz has been showed how to help and I’ve been showed some good stretches to try and work out this tension.  Mobility and heat have been recommended and thankfully, I’ve been told not to stop training.  Obviously, I can’t do any exercise that causes pain but there are certain things I can do to try and help.

It has reminded me of the importance of regular massage when training with heavy weights.  I pay so much attention to diet, spending more than the average person to eat good quality food, so it makes sense to invest a little of that money to keeping my body working the way it is supposed to.

I’m not sure how often sports massage is recommended but I’m going to make a big effort to get a good rub down on a more regular basis.  I’m also going to buy myself a lacrosse ball and make more of an effort with self myofascial release in between.

Do you get a sports massage? If so, how often?

7 responses to “The torture that is sports massage”

  1. Donnyfan says:

    I’ve had issues with my lower back for quite some time now and in April was in absolute agony for a number of days when it all went into spasm.

    After taking diazepam to help relax me I got in touch with a fantastic guy who laid hands on me and did a sports massage.

    That man can work miracles.

    I had to have regular weekly massages for 5-6 weeks, then drop to every 2-3 weeks.

    I now am managing relatively well on massages every couple of months, but have to make sure that I do lots of stretches every day (well, most days!). If I miss out the stretching boy, do I know it.

    Hope it all settles down for you mate :)

  2. Brad M says:

    I used to run 10k’s at a National level and used to get a massage after many major races from a registered sports physio, I hated them. I understood the benefit of them, but it was the worst part of finishing any race in my opinion, i’d come across the line with a 3rd place national placing only to have to lye on a bench in a tent exhausted, aching and then get ‘massaged’ into oblivion by someone 3 times my size with no regard for my mental health.

    Oh well, maybe that’s just me not being able to accept the price of being at the top of your game.

  3. Callum Pragnell says:

    I think that it can sometimes be a shock to the system, you have just exhausted yourself by running however far you have, and as soon as you stop you simply flop, and then along comes someone to rub you down, which practically beats all the aches out of your body, but of course adds some more in the process!

  4. Neal Training says:

    A sports massage can make a massive difference but you need to find the right practitioner for you. Callum’s comment above demonstrates this. Bodies are all different and need to be treated differently.

  5. Matt Williams says:

    I love your blog – it’s awesome! I’ve recently got back into my training and had what sounds like a similar injury… Pins & needles in my arm, severe neck pain and couldn’t move my head properly… Not the best start to a new training regime! :S I gave it a few days to try and get better but eventually ended up visiting a local Sports Physio… She worked on it every day for almost 3 months and we finally got it pretty much back to normal around 5 weeks ago. I’m not sure what was more painful though, the actual pain or the torture of the Physio! :)

    Mine seemed to be triggered by stress too… Lots of worry over potential redundancy at work & pressure from extra jobs to get done. Onwards and upwards from here though I guess!

    Keep up the good work, Matt


  6. Joakim Valsinger says:

    Great blog! Thanks for writing it.

    I ruptured my Achilles Tendon three years ago and found that Sports Massage was really helpful in recovering from my injury. After the operation to repair the tendon and wearing a cast for so long my leg muscles had shortened and atrophied. Everything else had seized up because of my new walking (hobbling) patterns.

    Sports Massage helped sort out my tight muscles everywhere else, right the imbalances and once it came to working on the calf and repaired tendon itself….pain, expletives and tears! It made a big difference to getting the muscles back to a reasonable state.

  7. Sarah Bovill says:

    Sports massage is fantastic and it looks like you’ve dropped on with your guy helping you out. I would get it as often as I could afford it.

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