How Soft Tissue Therapy Can Help The ‘Pain’ of Football Training

Soft Tissue Therapist Chris Elliot & Physio Ed Clarke join together to explain how Soft Tissue Therapy can help speed up recovery when training.

August is here so for footballers that means pre season training is in full swing with the start of the season just around the corner. No matter what level you play at, you know football training means running, running and more running. 

Whether it’s endless laps of the pitch, shuttle runs or high intensity interval training you are pushing your body to the limit both physically and mentally. It’s therefore really important to minimise your recovery time by maintaining your flexibility and getting adequate rest and hydration. Receiving regular Soft Tissue Therapy (STT) can help speed up your recovery between training sessions and give you the edge on the pitch by maximising your performance.

One of the pains (literally) of training following the postseason break is the muscle tenderness and stiffness that normally develops 24-72 hours after completing a session (DOMS – Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). DOMS is thought to be caused by an inflammatory response to small micro-tears within muscle fibres following harder than normal training sessions, especially involving muscle fibres lengthening under load (eccentric).  STT has been shown to alleviate the symptoms of DOMS(1, 2),  reduce the swelling associated with high intensity eccentric exercise(3) and have positive psychological effects post exercise(4,5) thus offering the potential for reduced recovery time.

Feeling fresher sooner during a heavy training block should mean that not only are you available for more training sessions, but also that you are able to push yourself harder during these sessions. If training appropriately this should mean that you become stronger and quicker, translating into improved performance. It has also been shown that a higher participation in pre-season training sessions reduces your risk of injury during the season.

STT is not just about recovery, it can also be an aid to increase performance and reduce the risk of injury. Most players are more dominant on one side than the other, which can sometimes lead to greater muscle development with increased strength in the preferred leg. This imbalance can sometimes have detrimental effects on flexibility, range of motion, performance and technical skill, as well as increase the risk of injury (6).  

Whilst the role of screening in injury prevention is a controversial topic, pre-season is a good time to work on those areas that have either been injured previously and/or lack the desired flexibility to feel comfortable out on the pitch. Hips and groin are a common area in which footballers lack mobility but ankles, hamstrings and the lumbar spine are other areas that benefit from having improved flexibility.

STT can help improve your range of movement by relaxing over stressed muscles and releasing restricted fascial barriers, thus helping to reduce imbalance and reduce injury risk.

Why not book a treatment with one of our team of soft tissue therapists to see how we can help take your game to the next level this season. 

References:

  1. Hilbert, J. E., Sforzo, G. A. and Swensen, T. (2003) The Effects of massage on delayed onset muscle soreness, British Journal of Sports Medicine, 37(1), pp.72-75
  2. Farr, T., Nottle, C., Nosaka, K. and Sacco, P. (2002) The effects of therapeutic massage on delayed onset muscle soreness and muscle function following downhill walking, Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 5(4), pp.297-306
  3. Zainuddin, Z., Newton, M., Sacco, P. and Nosaka, K. (2005) Effects of Massage on Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness, Swelling, and Recovery of Muscle Function, Journal of Athletic Training, 40(3), pp.174-80
  4. Nunes, G. S., Bender, P.U., de Menezes, F. S., Yamashitafuji, I. and Wageck, B. (2016) Massage therapy decreases pain and perceived fatigue after long-distance Ironman triathlon: a randomised trial, 62(2), pp.83-8
  5. Hemming, B., Smith, M., Graydon, J. and Dyson, R. (2000) Effects of massage on physiological restoration, perceived recovery, and repeated sports performance, British Journal of Sports Medicine, 34(2), pp.109-115
  6. Mendiguchia, J., Alentorn-Geli, E., Idoate, F. and Myer, G. D. (2013) Rectus femoris muscle injuries in football: a clinically relevant review of mechanisms of injury, risk factors and preventive strategies, 47(6), pp.359-366