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Bruising from sports massages? - The Original Live Journal Runners Club
Bruising from sports massages?
Hi folks - I just had my first sports massage yesterday - I figure that now that I'm actually running semi-regularly, it might be a smart tool in my "injury prevention" toolbox.

The masseur I used is my physio, with whom I've built up a pretty good rapport over the past two injuries - and since he's also a qualified sports massage therapist and knows my history, I figured he'd be a good person to work with.

I'd been warned in advance from other people who'd had sports massages that, especially the first time, they can be pretty damned uncomfortable, so I was expecting that - and when I'm not actively stressing about discomfort contributing to an injury, I actually have a pretty high pain tolerance. Yesterday approached my tolerance, but never crossed it.

But then, when I got home later in the evening, I discovered I'd actually bruised - fairly vividly - all the way down the inside of one thigh from where he'd focussed on my adductors. I've let him know what happened, and said I might need to be a wimp and get him take it more gently next time - and let me be clear, I'm NOT blaming him, since he relies on me telling him how hard he can or can't work my muscles... but now I'm curious.

Is this kind of bruising-after-the-fact thing totally unheard of in a sports massage, or does it actually happen occasionally, especially if you bruise easily (which I definitely can do, sometimes). For those of you who get sports massages, how would you react if you discovered you'd bruised visibly after you'd had one? Would you assume something was seriously wrong? Or would you just shrug and figure that, as long as the net long-term result of getting the massage was a benefit, then a bit of temporary bruising for a couple of days afterwards just wasn't a big deal?

Current Mood: curious curious

12 miles | run a mile
onlykelsey From: onlykelsey Date: November 9th, 2010 08:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
I would assume it's normal, to be honest. I'd still let him know what happened, but in my experience it's far from unheard of.
starfirenz From: starfirenz Date: November 9th, 2010 10:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks - that's reassuring :-) Sounds like there are quite a few people who react like this!
diesel9 From: diesel9 Date: November 9th, 2010 08:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Gah. I bruised like crazy after my first (and only!) massage. My legs looked awful, but felt so much better!
starfirenz From: starfirenz Date: November 9th, 2010 10:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
So noted. T'be honest, I'm not too worried - it's just that I didn't know to expect it, and thought I'd better check on other people's experiences before discussing with the physio.

And I hear you on the feeling better - aside from the pain of the bruising (which I can pretty much ignore if I'm not worried about it being an actual injury), I felt a lot freer and more fluid when I ran this morning than I have in... quite some time!

Thanks for commenting
brokenheather From: brokenheather Date: November 9th, 2010 08:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't bruise easily, but if I'm getting a specific area worked on by my PT or my chiropractor (who does only muscle work), I usually bruise. You figure the person is spending 30 minutes working on (often) one spot on your body. If you just poked at your leg with your finger for 30 minutes, I'd expect a bruise :)

I'm sure it's no big deal, but mention it to him.
starfirenz From: starfirenz Date: November 9th, 2010 10:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've had a chance to chat with him on the phone now, and he (plus the comments folks have given me here) was pretty reassuring. He said that yeah, it can happen - that it's definitely not something to aim for, but also nothing to be concerned about. He's given me a couple of tips for helping to relieve the bruising sooner too (apparently, hopping in a cool pool and just walking around in it does wonders to clear bruising because of the combination of temperature and water pressure), so it's all good :-)

Thanks for the comment!
katie_keysburg From: katie_keysburg Date: November 9th, 2010 09:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've bruised after massage, particularly when my therapist was trying to work out the adhesion/ scar tissue/ whatever from an old injury. My arm is better so I know it was worth the bruise.
starfirenz From: starfirenz Date: November 9th, 2010 10:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Good to know, thank you - I've found the comments here really reassuring!

(also? icon l<3ve!)
katie_keysburg From: katie_keysburg Date: November 9th, 2010 11:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
I loooooove me some Micheal Weston! New eps start Thursday!
starfirenz From: starfirenz Date: November 9th, 2010 11:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
Michael is indeed TEH awesome (and the fact that Mr Donovan can *MOVE* so competently when it comes to the fight scenes doesn't hurt any), but I have to confess I have a soft spot for Fi too. She has such a wonderfully... simple... view of the world.
vintaged_lust From: vintaged_lust Date: November 10th, 2010 03:02 am (UTC) (Link)

An MT perspective

Before he went in deeply did he warm up the muscle at all?* Also, I noticed you said he was your physio -- do you mean physical therapist? From my experience OTs and PTs tend to go in faster than MTs to work on muscles deeply, so that could account for the bruising. While sports massage is not my favorite thing to do, I do regularly give them to my bf when he is training for ultras and marathons. While I've gone in deeply every time and have made him squirm a bit and brought him to his limit on a few occasions re: pain tolerance, I've never bruised him. It was something I was initially worried about, so I often asked.

As a recipient I've never been bruised either and I've received sports massages for years now for running, fencing, and bodybuilding. I've been sore the day after and definitely been able to tell it was heavily worked on the previous day.

Do you bruise easily or have really light skin pigmentation? Perhaps what would normally not show on someone else did show up on you due to either of those factors?

*This is generally done with long strokes that are used to increase circulation in the general area and then slightly deeper but not fully engaging the muscle in the specific area and THEN going in deep to relieve whatever issue is there
starfirenz From: starfirenz Date: November 10th, 2010 08:14 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: An MT perspective

Thanks for the thoughts - very much appreciated. I'm pretty sure he did a little bit of warming the area up first, but you're the second person to suggest that he might not have done enough of it, so I think it's definitely worth asking him to do a little more warmup before he digs in next time.

WRT the physio - I'm not sure what role a physical therapist plays in the States - we don't use the term here (that I've heard), but it might well be the same thing. In NZ, a physiotherapist (aka "physio") is the kind of professional you go and see when you find yourself dealing with some kind sports or overuse injury - they diagnose the problem and set you a course of rehab which can involve strengthening exercises, stretches, massage, ultrasound, and probably a load of other techniques I haven't had to experience yet. Not all physios here are qualified in sports massage therapy though. Does that gel with what physical therapists do?

WRT my skin - I do bruise reasonably easily, especially in areas that haven't had a lot of recent bruising experience (for example, if I haven't done elbow work with pads in a while, and my trainer focusses on that for a while, you can guarantee my upper forearms and elbows will bruise dramatically from contact with the pads) - so that probably has something to do with it too.

I did have a good conversation with him this morning just to let him know how I reacted, and he commented that while it's not an expected outcome, it does happen sometimes. He gave me a couple of ideas for bringing down the bruising, and agreed that next time we'll try to take it just a little more gently.
12 miles | run a mile