sports massage on recovery

The Effect of Massage on Recovery

The Effect of Massage on Recovery

This article is about the impact of massage on recovery, as measured by the Omegawave system ( The Omegawave takes an ECG standard reading of the heart activity and tracks heart rate variability and a host of other things. It then gives you a series of readings for Cardiac Stress, Recovery Pattern, Adaptive Reserves and more. The newer model will also track Central Nervous System activity through electrodes attached to the head and arm.

Omegawave measurement

The omegawave in action!


I and many of my clients use the Omegawave system to give feedback on the effects of everyday life and training stresses. This enables us to better adapt the training plan to take into account how the body is responding to the imposed stressors, both short and long term. Many things can make the various readings worse – a bad night’s sleep, a reduced calorie intake, a very hard training session or even the onset of illness.

Using the Omegawave means we don’t have to wait weeks or even months to see if our training is having a beneficial or a negative effect. This means we can make changes earlier and spend less time fighting against nature. Instead, we can work with the body and do hard training sessions when readiness is high and easier training sessions when things are less ideal.

This approach generally works well and enables us to miss fewer training sessions due to illness, injury or tiredness. However, in the example I am going to talk about in this article, a simple ‘do an easier training session’ or ‘eat a bit more’ approach did not solve the problem.

A Real Life Example:

A client of mine, Cindy, had done a week of cycling every day. She had then taken a few days off to recover and then done another couple of hard days on the bike. After a day off she took another reading, expecting to be recovered as usual. However, her readings still showed extreme fatigue, with an elevated heart rate and cardiac stress as well as a very bad recovery pattern. I am not sure the reason for the readings staying low – perhaps she hadn’t eaten enough, or maybe muscle soreness was playing a larger factor for her. Either way, I advised a day off training to help recover.

cardiac readiness before adaptive reserves before

Cindy later did a reading that showed a slight improvement, so she decided to train anyway at a very low intensity. However she found even this very easy (on paper) workout to be almost impossible to do without her heart rate shooting up, so she cut it short. A reading after the workout showed that her assessments had returned to ‘very poor’.

At this stage I decided to try alternative forms of recovery, rather than relying on just rest and food. I told Cindy that I thought a massage may be beneficial. I set up the massage table to do a relaxing form of massage therapy. I used techniques more suited to relaxation than my usual sports massage approach, using lots of long flowing strokes and only moderate pressure. I would classify this as more of a general massage that pumps blood and lymph around rather than a specific targeted treatment aiming at releasing certain muscles. This was the effect of the massage on recovery immediately after the treatment.

cardiac readiness effects massage on recoveryadaptive reserves effect massage on recovery


Cindy then got plenty of good quality food – lots of vegetables, high carbohydrate and protein with some good fats – and had an early night, and woke up in the morning with the following readings.

cardiac readiness next morning adaptive reserves next morning


And here are screenshots of the daily overview, showing the measurements throughout the day, after training and after the massage on the 6th, and the continued improvement on the morning of the 7th.

overview 6thoverview 7thomegawave readings of effect of massage on recovery

During the time after this event, Cindy resumed training at a slightly lower intensity and was able to recover adequately from this. However the next weekend she did a longer, higher intensity ride and the numbers dropped more than expected, showing that the recovery process was still ongoing and she was not back to 100% readiness. This time round, a day off and a slightly higher calorie intake was all that was needed to return her to a good Omegawave score.


I feel this shows the effectiveness of massage on recovery, as well as the need for correct nutrition and sleep for recovery from stress. Remember that stress can be caused by things other than training. Also, it is better to remove a cause of stress rather than be forced to do lots of extra things to recover from it. However, in extreme cases like this or after a big ride/run/game etc, massage can be used very effectively to return the body to a state where training is possible and beneficial.

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To book sports massage or biomechanics coaching services yourself in West London or Surrrey, contact me today by clicking the link: Contact Me

Great results with Rugby players in 1st Biomechanics Coaching session

In the last week I’ve done a lot of work with Rugby players of various levels, here are some of the highlights!

– Around 50% of the people got to totally clear on the basic screen within 1 hour, indicating that all basic dysfunctions have been fixed.

– One guy who had problems/pain with his shoulder and failed 4 out of 4 of the shoulder tests ended up passing all the shoulder tests….after 10 minutes of self-releases on his hip!

– Another guy who started with one leg over 10mm longer than the other walked out at the end of the session with no difference in his leg length and much less dysfunction and tightness in the hips.

– A girl who had back pain ended up pain free by the end of the first session, her hamstring flexibility also drastically improved.

These type of results are not out of the ordinary for one hour of Biomechanics Coaching, and unlike most other types of rehab/injury prevention approach you are given the tools to fix the problems yourself. All the above results were achieved without massage, without joint manipulation and without me even touching the person!

The next step on anyone that gets to the stage where they are passing the vast majority of the basic tests is to make sure that the results ‘stick’ and start building stability to support the new alignment of the various joints. The end result is a stronger, faster, pain free athlete who is able to perform consistently and efficiently!

If you are interested in getting a Biomechanics screen, please get in touch via the contact page and you too could be the next to get great results like the ones above.

Who Can Benefit From Biomechanics Coaching?

Recently a few people have asked me variations on the question of “I’m not injured, can Biomechanics Coaching benefit me?”

The answer is – yes, in fact that is the perfect situation! Here’s why…

The Biomechanics Coaching system is not about immediate pain relief (although some of the techniques can give great results for this too!) but it is about looking at the body as a whole and noticing and correcting patterns that are causing inefficient or faulty movement patterns. This will mean that the athlete is in a better position to be able to display strength, speed, fitness etc.

Let’s use a theoretical example – for instance, a rugby player who has problems with his  hamstrings. They always feel tight and he sometimes pulls a hamstring, but is generally recovered well enough to train again within a couple of weeks. This situation is far from ideal, but can be managed. However, if and when the injury is more severe he will be out for a much longer period, and find it harder to get back to peak levels.  In this case an ideal situation would be for him to consult with a Biomechanics Coach as soon as he notices there is something not right (regular tightness and minor tweaks in this case would be signs that something is not right). The Biomechanics Coach would then do a full screen on the player, finding any problems and giving him the tools to correct them with simple exercises he can do anywhere. In this example, he may just have tight hamstrings….or he may have problems with the sciatic nerve that runs down the back of the leg, or a tightness or weakness in the hip that is causing the hamstring to work harder than it should, or a spine stability problem…..and so on. Whatever the case, the player will have the information about the cause of the tightness and a proven way to improve the situation.

Another example might be a girl who plays tennis. Perhaps she is having shoulder problems, mainly on the backhand. She has seen a physio and got some shoulder strengthening exercises but still hasn’t got 100% pain free. If this person came to see me, as a Biomechanics Coach, I would not only look at the shoulder but also the feet, knees, hips and spine as well. The reason for this is that there could be many problems elsewhere on the body that could cause shoulder pain, and looking at the shoulder only may not get to the root of the problem. In fact it is often the case that a shoulder problem has its origins lower down the body, for instance in the hips (especially in a sporting environment where the legs are always involved as well).

The most shocking example I have heard along these lines is of a tennis player who had multiple surgeries to a painful shoulder with only minor improvements. He ended up visiting a Biomechanics Coach and becoming pain free within a few sessions by working on his….opposite leg! In this case, as with many that I see on a daily basis, the pain was not an indication of the root of the problem but rather just where the weak link in the chain happened to be.

Often as Biomechanics Coaches when starting to work with someone we have to go backwards to go forwards – meaning that the person wanting to be able to perform better in their chosen sport may be looking for a harder exercise or training program to get to the next level, when often the answer is to fix something seemingly minor that may be causing problems with every movement they make. To give you a visual idea of this, here is a ‘performance pyramid’ that Biomechanics Coaches use:

Here we can see that where we want to be improving is ‘Global Muscle Performance’. However, if there is a problem in ‘Core Stability’ our performance will be affected as we will not be able to get into position/stay tight/output as much power as possible with the global muscles. And further down the line, if we have problems with (for instance) muscle spasm, we may not be able to get optimal firing patterns to stabilise the core and/or perform at the higher levels. This may mean that to improve a skill such as sprinting for instance we have to go all the way to the bottom of the pyramid and reduce a muscle spasm or mobility issue in the hip, then build on top of the larger base our pyramid has.  In this way peak performance can be reached safely.

hoy pendleton cycling biomechanics

Biomechanics are essential, says GB Cycling Performance Director

It was great to hear in the news the other day that the Performance Director of the most successful cycling team that Great Britain has had in recent memory included Biomechanics as one of his fundamental considerations for success!

hoy pendleton cycling biomechanics

Here is an excerpt from the interview:

‘We have a small group led by Chris Boardman who look for the latest innovations in other industries and apply them to cycling.

‘You start by analysing the event that you want to win and then you give yourself priorities because you can’t win everything.

‘We look at the gap between where we are and where we have to be to win and then we create a plan and execute it.

‘If you break down everything that you need and improve every little aspect by 1 per cent then that can make a difference. Some things are essential – fitness, biomechanics, etc – others are less essential but can make the difference such as posture when you sleep, using the right kind of pillow.

‘Hygiene is extremely important because you are going to get ill a little bit less. If you put all these little things together you are going to improve.’

Read more: Londonicle-2184824/London-2012-Olympics-Victoria-Pendleton-event-sad-day–Dave-Brailsford.html#ixzz23AjitMVi

He echoes what I and other Biomechanics Coaches always say – the foundation of any training program, whether it is for a housewife looking to get fit or an olympic athlete going for gold is correct movement first. One should worry about correcting Biomechanics, exercise form etc early in the training/season in order to more safely and effectively perform at higher intensities. Whilst it is certainly possible to reach a high level of sporting achievement with incorrect and inefficient biomechanics, eventually the cumulative effects are premature wear and tear of joints, injuries and performance drop-off.