Making our foundation even stronger in training, racing & recovery! Part 1 – Maintenance massage.
by Sarah F.
Endurance athletes know what it takes to prepare for an event: hours upon hours of training, sometimes with little time for recovery between workouts. They know the toll this takes on their bodies, and so the recovery process begins to continuously shed a more important light.
Foam rolling, stretching, yoga, rest, nutrition, sleep… all help speed the recovery process.
But there comes a point where intervention from outside oneself is necessary, either to jumpstart recovery, or to fully relax muscles in preparation for what’s to come. What is one of the best tools for this outside intervention? Massage.
Through Experience Massage (EM), I’ve had the chance to work on many of you, and have found that the massage treatments are consistently falling into one of four scenarios. This four part series will cover each scenario.
Scenario 1 — Maintenance massages on an ongoing basis.
A favorite massage program of mine is the ongoing maintenance massages that athletes undergo. This schedule really allows both me, as the massage therapist, and you, as the athlete, to become as in tune as possible with your own muscles’ patterns and tendencies. It is through this regular routine that athletes and I often discover seemingly inconsequential activities in their daily life that now are posing potential hurdles in their training and/or recovery. For instance, sleep position, sitting position while commuting to/from work, work habits and activities – these all play a role in how well the body truly recovers between workouts.
Use of physical therapists, chiropractors, and coaches to see how this all plays out in training is always key in staying on top of muscle balance and overall health. But because so much of what comes up during the course of a massage is almost trivial, as the activities and consequences are simply parts of daily existence, these hurdles can often slip past the radar. The coolest part to discovering these hurdles? The athletes start to sense them too, and can carry this awareness over into their training and daily life activities. And over time this leads to being as in tune with your body as possible.
It is also through this maintenance approach that massage is able to help “unstick” muscle groups that have become “stuck.” No amount of foam rolling is able to completely reset our muscles back to neutral. Foam rolling helps keep things supple and moving, but only to a point. Massage can be that final piece that literally jolts the muscles back into their optimal resting place, so that true recovery can occur. And it is only through true recovery that our muscles can fully rebuild & regrow, adapting to the training load we’ve placed on them.
“As a coach, I am constantly talking to my athletes about the benefits of massage such as improved race performances and reduced injuries. For athletes, I view regularly scheduled massage therapy as a key part of the training and racing process. I encourage them to take advantage of having Sarah on our staff on a frequent basis. As an athlete, I often suffer from sore muscles. I know this limits my ability to push faster and further in my workouts. I look forward to my monthly massage with Sarah because of all the physical and mental health and wellness benefits that I get from it. She has a knack for identifying and targeting my “trouble spots,” and the general stress relief is amazing! Sarah creates a wonderful atmosphere of relaxation and comfort. Not only are my muscles not sore after my massage, they are loose and relaxed. I always tell her that I feel like a new woman when the session is over, and I even feel “faster” as I walk out the door!” – Suzy C.
“Coach Sarah has been instrumental in my success as a triathlete. Her skills as a massage therapist have really helped me maintain the level of fitness necessary for racing. I’ve been utilizing Coach Sarah’s services since she started in February and I’m forever hooked. She’s very detailed in her massage approach and I’ve been grateful for her work to relieve an achy knee issue. Coach Sarah, thanks so much for your dedication and hard work! I’m living proof that you’re doing great!!” – Cathy O.
“If you would have asked me about massage 6 months ago, I would have told you it’s something you do to relax or earn after a big race. I have learned, however, that massage is far more than that. We all do our best to stretch and use foam rollers to help our muscles heal, but let’s face it – we need more help.
Through regular massage, many of my muscles, including those hard to stretch on my own, have become far more loose and agile. I feel that from this gained agility I am now able to get more power out of the muscle which allows me to work it longer and harder, therefore increasing my performance abilities. At this point, straying from regular massages would be like unplugging my power tap.” – Susan G.
Stay tuned for Part 2–The Pre-Race Massage Schedule in this series of articles!
Click here to schedule a massage with EM.