Weekend Warriors and Serious Athletes

Spring hasn’t quite made it here yet but I know it’s on everyone’s mind.  I definitely have cabin fever and am desperately awaiting the warm weather so I can ride my bike, take a hike, paddle, or just go outside and play!  What are you chomping at the bit to do outside?  Have you been keeping in shape this long winter or have you hibernated on the comfy couch waiting for the sun to recharge your batteries?

If you’ve been fairly inactive for a bit it’s easy to overdo it in your eagerness to get out, enjoy the weather and have some fun.  Your muscles aren’t yet conditioned for a lot activity making them fatigue more quickly, more prone to injury, and increasing your chances for delayed onset muscle soreness, that nasty ache you get a couple of days after strenuous activity.

To reduce your risk of injury and pain make sure you warm up beforehand.  A good way to do this is to simply start your activity at a low intensity:  walk briskly before running, do a few drills for your sport, dynamic (rather than static) stretching,  just get the muscles warmed up and the blood moving.  Conditioning is also key to preventing soreness and injury.  If you haven’t walked around the block for a couple of months that 10 mile hike or mini marathon might not be the best idea right away!

Now that you’re moving again, or at least thinking about it,  add massage to your routine to keep your muscles and connective tissues happy and healthy.  Many of my clients are runners, cyclists, distance hikers, and white water kayakers and they see me regularly to help them improve their performance and reduce their chances of muscle injury.

Massage is an excellent way to prevent and rehabilitate injuries, maintain range of motion, and manage the aches and pains that come with having fun.  New activities or stepping up your regular ones can easily fatigue or injure muscles unaccustomed to being used in certain ways.  Here are a few ways massage is beneficial to athletes:

  • If you participate in a sport regularly you are at risk for repetitive strain injuries that can result in myofascial pain syndrome and trigger point formation.  Regular massage is the best way to treat fascia and eliminate trigger points.
  • Massage has been shown to reduce delayed onset muscle pain by 30% if given within several hours after the activity.  If you’re planning a big day on the trail, road, or river consider scheduling a massage for the next day to reduce your chances of being too sore to get out of bed in a couple of days.
  • Sports and working out cause micro tears in muscle and connective tissue.  Recent research has indicated that massage reduces the inflammation associated with these injuries and promotes production of mitochondria, the “powerhouses” of the cell that are responsible for producing energy for muscle contraction.
  • Any muscle injury can cause scarring and adhesions that reduce a muscle’s range of motion and efficiency.  New injuries benefit from massage to help them resolve properly so they don’t become chronic problems. Old, chronic injuries benefit by massage’s ability to break up adhesions and allow muscles to move and function more effectively.  Chronic injuries and pain can also lead to trigger point formation which can be resolved by deep tissue techniques.

Whether you’re a serious athlete or a weekend warrior regular massage can help keep your body in top shape.  Prevention and proper management of pain and injuries with the help of massage will keep you moving and having fun.