Triathlon Training: Benefits Of Massage

Written by: Cliff English

Are you an athlete who cringes at the thought of making massages a part of your regular training habits? Coach Cliff English explains why seeking massages before your muscles seize should be an integral part of your training plan.

I definitely cannot say massage therapy is a foreign recovery modality concept to most triathletes, and even the most stalwart holdouts can be seen on occasion receiving a post-race massage or two. It seems massage is still viewed as a luxury and an indulgence and is used very infrequently. Most will still wait until every muscle has seized up and muscles and tendons are about as tight as the weave of carbon on your carbon-fiber bike.

Sure, if you wait until that point, you will garner some brief relief from your ailments. However, for an athlete at any level, the real benefits arise from frequent massage therapy and from working with a massage therapist that understands sports massage and your body. I believe that if you are serious about your sport and performance, it is essential to integrate massage therapy into your training program. To help convince those that are still unsure, I have enlisted the help of certified massage therapist Briana Averill to strengthen my points. Averill is a licensed and nationally certified massage therapist in Tucson, Ariz. She works with runners, cyclists, triathletes and swimmers ranging from the weekend warrior to Olympic medalists.

Massage therapy has numerous benefits for athletes. Massage can speed up recovery after a large day of training, a race or a big block of training. According to Averill, “Massage increases blood flow to the muscles to help speed healing by flushing out the metabolic waste.” Averill says it can also give the athlete a chance to reconnect his mind and body and decompress. In a similar manner, “active recovery” can be utilized in the weeks that you do not have a massage scheduled, and it is also a very effective means of flushing metabolic waste.This would usually entail a light 30-minute swim or a 60-minute bike ride at a lower-end aerobic effort (zone 1).

Averill says that regular massage can help manage and prevent injury by bringing awareness to areas of the body that are not functioning or responding as efficiently as possible. “The therapist, if he understands the nature of the various injuries or dysfunctions can treat the athlete accordingly if it is within his scope of practice to do so,” she says.

The ideal frequency for massage therapy is twice a week for an elite athlete, once a week minimum. For a recreational athlete, it would be once a week to once a month based on need.

In coaching, one of the key components to success is a strong athlete/coach relationship built upon trust and effective communication. Similarly, it is key to establish a relationship with your massage therapist so he not only gets to know your body but also is able to work out with you what type and depth the massage should be for what you need in that microcycle (week) or training cycle. Massage should be periodized, and when you integrate it into your yearly plan, it will really reap huge benefits.

“Every person is different and what is highly effective for one person may not be for another,” says Averill. “But in general, for big load weeks, getting a good, deep flush once or twice a month is great, but not so deep that fatigue is increased in the muscles.” Averill cautions that your therapist should be in tune with your body and should have the experience to know how much is beneficial. Recovery weeks are a good time for more specific work. Then, in a competition week, it is all about what works for you as an individual just as with a taper.

“Some of my clients have responded well with deep, specific work early in the week before a race,” says Averill, “while others just prefer a nice, easy flush mid-week to a few days before.”

Ideally, I like to have my athletes get a massage the day before either a day off or the day before a light “active recovery” day. This is a good example of how to effectively use massage as a key component in a microcycle. A deep massage the day before a key track session or bike interval session will leave the athlete feeling sluggish for that session, and for most it would end up being a tough day of training.

When possible, schedule your pre-race massage early in the race week and then definitely get a post-race massage either right after the race (highly recommended) or the day after with your regular therapist. Throw in an ice bath lasting three to five minutes somewhere shortly after the race, and you will get the type of recovery that most pros use. This combo will have you recovered and ready to start another block of training in no time!

For daily preventive maintenance, it is also recommended to do a little self-massage with a foam roller, a TP massage ball, quad ball, roller stick or pretty much any self-massage torture apparatus you can get you hands on.

The rollers are effective to roll out the quads, IT bands and calves while the smaller balls are perfect for getting into glutes, adductors and soleus muscles. Remember that while a healthy dose of pain is always part of a triathlete’s daily regimen, too much may not always be a good thing.

Staying on top of your recovery with frequent massage is a great way to keep your body fine-tuned and running like the world-class machine that it is!

Coach Cliff English has over 15 years of experience coaching athletes ranging from age-groupers to Olympians, first-timers to Ironman champions.

Triathlon Training: Benefits Of Massage

*Remember, you do not have to be an athlete to benefit from regular massage therapy! Everyone can benefit from making regular massage therapy a part of their health and wellness routine!!

Massage Therapy, Winter, & the Off-season

Fall'10Summer has come to an end and winter is just around the bend. Winter is when I see the most injuries and muscle related complaints. During the winter it is cold outside and potentially icy; we are cold, tense, and our circulation is not great lending to muscle tension and a greater risk of injury. Additionally, winter can be stressful; it involves Holidays, bad weather, multiple family gatherings, travel, and extra expenses.

Massage therapy is an essential component of your health care routine throughout the year, and the winter & off-season are no exception. Let’s take a look at just a few of the reasons why:

Cold, Snow, & Ice! It is now only a matter of time before we, in the Front Range, have our first snowfall of the season. Then it will begin, the driveway shoveling, tense excursions to and from the car, exercising/training indoors & outdoors: skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, walking, jogging, swimming, and cycling in slippery conditions. These are all things that put added stress into our lives, specifically on our musculoskeletal system. Fear no more, for regular massage therapy year-round can help to maintain your muscular flexibility & health, and decrease the chances of injury during the winter.

Winter Sports & Activities Winter sports and activities can be a lot of fun, but there is a definite risk for injury and it is very important that you have a maintenance/massage therapy plan in place to prevent musculotendinous injuries, strains, and sprains from happening. Yet, not all injuries can be prevented, and if you do experience an injury, massage therapy can be a crucial part of your recovery and rehabilitation.RetroGC

Stress Winter can be a time of tremendous stress. Winter brings Holidays, bad weather, multiple family gatherings, travel,  and extra expenses, all things that can cause stress; and let’s not forget that even the things that bring us happiness and joy can also be added stress. Exercise and welcomed life changes are stressful, both mentally and physically. Massage therapy can provide much needed relief, a wonderful place for peace, quite, stillness, healing, and relaxation for the mindbodyspirit.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD, winter blues/depression) During the colder months and shorter days, many people suffer from SAD, a type of depression that occurs at the same time every year. Most people with SAD have symptoms that start in the fall and may continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. There are also those who may not have SAD, yet experience lethargy and feel gloomy during the winter months. Massage therapy can help soothe and relax your nervous system and bring an overall sense of well-being. Massage therapy decreases stress and anxiety levels, and is very effective in uplifting your mood – massage therapy stimulates the brain to produce endorphins.

Cold & Flu Season Winter is typically the season when many people get ill with colds and/or the flu. Massage therapy can boost your immune system and decrease your chances of getting sick; I almost never get sick! This is another great reason to make massage therapy a regular part of your health care routine year-round! After recovering from a cold or flu, getting a massage can be help eliminate toxins from your system – Just a reminder: As a health care practitioner, I ask that you do not come to your session if you are ill, especially if you have a contagious illness. Massage therapy can exacerbate sickness, and if you come to a session ill, it also puts me and other clients at risk for infection.

So there you have it, these are just a few of the many reasons why massage therapy is essential during the winter & off-season (…& year-round). Receiving massage therapy on a regular basis and throughout the year, gives us a chance to boost our immune system, improve athletic performance, prevent injury, promote healing, manage pain, decrease stress, experience quiet, stillness, and promote relaxation. Massage therapy allows the mind to be silent so that the body can heal from the inside out!

I look forward to seeing you this fall & winter for your continued, regular massage therapy care.

Please checkout the convenient online scheduling on the “Book Now” page!!

Be Well,

Maia

Yay, Gift Certificates!

Give the Gift of MASSAGE to Anyone, Anytime – a Gift Everyone Loves!

Perfect for the athlete in your life: massage will keep them going and keep them healthy! Massage supports muscular flexibility, recovery & health, boosts immune function, relieves stress,  and decreases the chances of injury.

Perfect gift for the woman or man who has everything!

A great way to say “thank you”:

  • a gift to your husband, wife, father, mother, brother, sister, friend, etc.
  • host gift

A great way to say “congratulations”

  • new parents gifts
  • engagement gifts
  • wedding gifts
  • housewarming present

Gift certificates are available for purchase with cash or check. Please contact me with the details of where you would like the gift certificate(s) sent or to arrange for pick up. Gift certificates expire one year from the date of purchase and are non-transferable.GiftCert

Stress and the Reproductive System

The reproductive system makes life possible. An individual does not need the system to survive, but the human race does. Without the reproductive system, the human cycle would end. High levels of stress that go untreated can be particularly taxing on the reproductive system.

An overload of stress prevents the release of the ‘master’ hormone that signals a cascade of hormones that direct reproduction and sexual behavior. It also inhibits the testes and ovaries directly, hindering production of the male and female sex hormones testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone.

In men, long-term stress can reduce the number of sperm produced or cause impotence. In women, stress can cause absent or irregular menstrual cycles, and reduce sexual desire.

So what do you say? Let’s keep the human race alive, book a massage session and help relieve the stress in your life.

Stress and the Endocrine System

endocrine_systemThe endo…what? I’ll give you a hint, it’s not what you do when you go over your handlebars. In simplest terms, it is a system of glands, each of which secretes a type of hormone directly into the bloodstream to regulate the body. The endocrine system is in contrast to the exocrine system, which secretes its chemicals using ducts. The endocrine system influences almost every cell, organ, and function in our bodies. It is instrumental in regulating mood, tissue function, metabolism, and reproductive processes to name a few.

So how is this system involved with stress? When the body is stressed, the glands of our endocrine system start to produce stress hormones. These hormones are released into the body and in response, the liver produces glucose, raising our blood sugar and keeping us in our ‘fight or flight’ sympathetic nervous system response when we don’t need to be there. Basically, it inhibits our ability to relax and recover from stress.

The ability to recover from stress and to remove ourselves from stress is very important in overall healthy function of the body.  Our society lends to a life of sympathetic nervous system living and not parasympathetic healing.  As a whole, we need more time in the parasympathetic nervous system response and ‘down time’ is the way to get there.  I’m not talking about down time in front of the television while folding laundry.  I’m referring to meditation, massage, relaxation in nature, sleep – I’m referring to time spent nurturing your soul and rejuvenating your systems.  Time away from a hectic schedule: working, training/exercise (yes, exercise is a form of stress & in moderation can help relieve stress – find balance), giving & caring for others (again, has it’s benefits, but it may take it’s toll if you do not make time to care for yourself) – make time for your healing and recovery.

The Endocrine System

  • Helps the body to restore and heal itself
  • Develops of a restful sleep pattern
  • Promotes appropriate levels of hormones (bringing the immune system back in balance)

Benefits of massage on the Endocrine System

  • increases general circulation in endocrine system and thus helps in transport of hormones
  • indirectly aids immune system, as some hormones produce lymphocytes to aid in immunization
  • normalizes endocrine activity through balancing effect on ANS (autonomic nervous system)
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