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Fitness first - Football and massage

There are a vast range of treatments and massages to help people recover from heavy sports sessions, release muscle tightness or simply get their regular 'MOT'. More importantly, you need to know what type of treatment goes best with the sports you practice, considering any underlying conditions - such as depression or chronic conditions.


One of the most popular treatments available is Sports Massage. This type of massage is usually very deep and can hit all the big muscles used in sports such as football. It provides the best results when done before and after a sports session, as it will enhance performance and help prevent injury during exercise, as well as aid recovery and regeneration afterwards. This recovery happens through the removal of the lactic acid that has built up in the muscles. This type of massage tends to be more local as the therapist will concentrate on a specific problem area (hamstrings, shoulders, etc).

Sports massage can also be used when an injury has settled in, playing a more rehabilitative role, aiming to restore the body to full functionality in due time.

Some other benefits of Sports Massage include an increase in blood flow and interchange of important nutrients and rate of removal of muscle metabolic waste products (lactic acid); improvements in joint flexibility, tissue elasticity, posture and muscle response to movement as well as relaxation.

Professional players can probably benefit from short massage sessions before, during and post-training/event, but amateur and occasional players might have to chose the latter one due to accessibility to the services, affordability and/or other commitments. There are also other specialised techniques which you may find more suited to your needs.


One treatment that is definitely catching the media’s attention is the Bowen Technique. Originally from Australia, the Bowen Technique is being more frequently used by sports professionals. Many Football and Rugby clubs now use the Bowen Technique because of its effectiveness in treating injuries sustained on the field. A Bowen Therapist colleague of mine works with a professional Rugby team and regular treatments have shown to produce less injuries and better performance throughout season.


The big difference between Bowen and many treatments is that it works mainly on the fascia. The fascia is a very thin layer of connective tissue that connects and controls muscles, being equally responsible for your posture and the way we hold our spine. Through Bowen you can change the way the muscles and fascia work together, thus changing the way the whole structure works so your body can adopt a better position. This work on the fascia creates a long-lasting effect on body alignment and any painful symptoms from many short-term (acute) or long-term (chronic) conditions.

Over the years of working with the Bowen Technique I found that results can be seen in as little as one session, but for problems that have been there for a longer period of time a few sessions might be needed to rectify the problem. Monthly sessions can have a great impact on the prevention of injuries.


Another treatment I would highly recommend is Shiatsu Massage.

Shiatsu is an ancient Japanese/Chinese technique of acupressure that works through the meridians. The meridians are energy lines in the body which the Chinese have linked to the internal organs - this has formed the basis for their medicine.

While Shiatsu has a more holistic approach, it works very well in aiding recovery of muscles and the release of lactic acid build up. Not only that, it can have a great impact in the mood and sense of well-being, injury prevention and performance.

The fact that Shiatsu is performed as a deep pressure massage on the muscles, which also has an effect on internal organs and state of mind, makes Shiatsu an invaluable treatment for those suffering from depression.


The stigma attached to mental health issues, coupled with the glamourous lifestyle of footballers in this modern era, makes mental health in football an under-investigated and under-reported area of the sport. The tragic death of German international goalkeeper Robert Enke in 2009 opened some eyes to the issue. Equally, the surprise death of Welsh player and manager Gary Speed in November 2011, less than 24hrs after his last TV appearance, has shown that sufferers of depression can often be very good at hiding their symptoms. Many other players have been affected by depression in the past few years, and attempt suicides are no longer uncommon amongst footballers.

Shiatsu Massage can be an excellent silent form of support for depression sufferers.


Just as important as having the treatment that suits you best, is having a practitioner you completely trust. The connection between the practitioner and the client is essential for the client’s recovery, as they need to give you the support you need - physically and emotionally. What I always say is: once you found a treatment and practitioner that work for you, STICK TO IT! Don’t go looking for the next best thing because staying with what works is not only wise but responsible.

By Bruno C. de Jongh - Bowen, Emmett and Shiatsu Practitioner

After completing studies in Shiatsu Massage and acquiring a degree in Physiotherapy in Brazil, Bruno de Jongh came to England and embarked on a successful career as a fitness instructor, teaching in health-clubs across London. During this time Bruno discovered The Bowen and Emmett Techniques which have proven to be valuable tools when treating conditions that previously have not responded well to conventional treatments. Bruno opened his own practice The Calm Blue Room in 2009 in Waterloo, London, and has already aided over 600 people with a vast array of ailments and conditions, enabling them to recover a life full of energy, physical health and emotional well-being -

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