By Nicole McMurray, RMT
In this article, I’ll share four important ways that massage can help get your body ready for physical activity. Massage therapy can be an excellent tool for preparing your body for the increase in exercise that comes along with spring. The changing of the seasons is sure to bring changes in body, mood and energy levels.
It’s important to make sure your body is ready for physical activity – whatever that looks like for you. Transitioning from winter to spring sports? Opting to exercise outdoors instead of the gym? Jumping back into physical activity in general after a couple months of hibernation?
Surprising our body’s tissues and joints by quickly jumping back into certain forms of exercise, especially for physically demanding sports, can lead to a lot of soreness and potential injuries (which we all want to avoid!). Let’s address how massage can help you care for your body and make this yearly transition a little bit easier.
Whatever your exercise routine, athletes at all levels can benefit from massage for: pain relief, event preparation, scar tissue release, and discomfort and movement errors.
1) Pain Relief:
This is the most well-known benefit of massage. The more often we take part in physical activities, the more our muscles and joints are working hard to support those actions. Massage is effective in providing muscles and joints with relief, but it is also important that we discuss appropriate self-care and exercises that will provide relief post and between activities to keep you in good working order!
In case you missed it, we published a great article a few weeks ago entitled 8 New Ways To Think About Pain. Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist, Cora Tomowich, discusses common contributors of pain, chronic versus acute pain and pain is an expression of the brain.
2) Event Preparation:
Consider massage as something worth doing before, after, or building up to that 5k run, game, tournament, or triathlon you signed up for. Events tend to push us past our limits – pushing through that pain, discomfort or restriction that you have had for a while risks injury (or reinjury) and can make the area of concern uncomfortable during the event.
Massage is effective in warming-up, stimulating and/or releasing muscles and joints. It is optimal that we assess and treat the above symptoms with ample time before events to allow the body to adjust and repair, decreasing the chance of those risks occurring.
Check out this recent article about Marathon Training and Recovery. Dr. Hilary Booth Chambers, ND discusses what happens to our bodies when we train and how Intravenous (IV) therapy is being used in athletes to decrease recovery time, improve muscle repair, decrease inflammation, improve energy production, and reduce the risk of that “crash” that often happens after a big race.
3) Scar Tissue Release:
Do you have that pain that always seems to come back when you start your activity up again? Shin splints from running? Arm pain with swimming or tennis? This could be scar tissue that hasn’t been addressed.
Sometimes acute injuries that do not heal properly can cause scar tissue, which can in turn decrease joint mobility and increase discomfort or pain. We can mobilize the scar tissue through deeper techniques, including Graston Technique®, to help decrease these symptoms. Read more about Graston Technique® here.
Not sure if scar tissue is your problem? Learn more by reading the full article What is Scar Tissue and What Can We Do About It?
4) Discomfort and Movement Errors:
Your discomfort or restriction always seems to be a consistent issue with no apparent explanation. What we need to do is assess the actions that give you discomfort to see if there’s a bio-mechanical or movement error. These can increase your risk of injury, and also cause soreness if an action is consistently completed in a fashion that is not comfortable for your body.
A situation I see commonly is neck discomfort or tightness with those who do weight lifting or shoulder exercises. Be aware during your next workout. Are you engaging the neck muscles in order to achieve a given exercise? Shoulder exercises are meant for shoulders, and should engage the specific shoulder muscles they are aiming for, with little engagement from other areas. Sometimes it’s just a few tweaks of the action, weights, and awareness that will make the positive change for you.
I hope that I’ve shed some light on what massage can do to help you prepare for physical activity. Please enjoy your spring activities! Know that the team at Darou Wellness is here to support you in developing and maintaining safe and healthy practices. If you have any questions regarding what massage can do for you, feel free to get in touch with us.
Contact us: 416.214.9251, firstname.lastname@example.org
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