Sports Massage Demystified
With the New York City Marathon just right around the corner, Oasis Day Spa has seen a major uptick in runners-in-training requesting massage. Now, for the experienced runner they know exactly what areas they need help with and specifically how massage can help. However, for athletes that are new to training for such a demanding and grueling feat as a marathon, that is another story.
Massage therapy is nothing new to the serious athlete; they know the amazing benefits it provides to helping them train and recover from such a strenuous schedule. But for the individual who may be for the first time demanding endurance of this nature from their body it is a revelation.
The continual pounding long distance running exacts on the body results in cumulative damage that does not immediately show itself. Your joints take a tremendous beating. A study at the University of California at San Francisco found evidence of significant biochemical changes in the runners’ knee cartilage, particularly in the days immediately after the race.*(NYT Science Oct. 12, 2010) If you are training for the marathon or a serious athlete competing in any sport there is no doubt that massage therapy can help in the recovery process from training or injury. The question is which massage is right for you?
The most popular massage technique for the general public is Swedish, and for a very good reason. Swedish massage employs long effleurage strokes, which are very relaxing and easy on the body. After all most people who receive massage want to feel relaxed and the benefits include improved circulation and diminished stress. But that probably won’t cut it with the serious athlete who is dealing with the rigors of training.
Here are three great massage modalities that Oasis Day Spa offers that can really help you cope with the injuries, challenges, and every day stress on the body that serious training exacts.
ARNICA SPORTS MASSAGE as the name suggests, is the perfect massage for the serious athlete- and it hits the mark for 90% out there. It is not your typical relaxing Swedish massage. This Oasis signature modality is designed to prevent and relieve injuries and conditions that are associated with rigorous exercise. We employ not only deeper muscle work to specific areas that the athlete is stressing but incorporate warming Kneipp Arnica massage oil. For marathoners we focus on the knees, ankles and feet mainly, but the lower back as well. Many golfers who experience lower back pain from the torque exerted in the swing benefit from the specific work employed here.
DEEP TISSUE MASSAGE is good for a person experiencing tightness or soreness from overworked or strained muscles. This modality focuses on realigning deeper layers of muscles and connective tissue. When there is chronic muscle tension or injury, there are usually adhesions (bands of painful, rigid tissue) in muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Adhesions can block circulation and cause pain, limited movement, and inflammation. Deep tissue massage works by physically breaking down these adhesions to relieve pain and restore normal movement. To do this, the massage therapist often uses direct deep pressure or friction applied across the grain of the muscles.
At certain points during the massage, most people find there is usually some discomfort and pain. The next day some people are so sore they think they have been injured, but in fact they are dealing with the after effects of the release of lactic acids into their blood stream- similar to a very strenuous workout with weights after you have taken a prolonged break from such an activity.
At Oasis the therapists will always check-in with the client to gauge your level of comfort with the massage. Deep work can test one’s tolerance, so be sure you are asking for the modality that best suits your needs.
MUSCLE MELTDOWN MASSAGE I saved my favorite modality for last because I think it covers all the great benefits of Sports and Deep Tissue while adding in the benefits of wet hot packs, cool stones, and BioFreeze, which is an amazing cool gel that aids in pain relief. Straight away this may not be perfect solution for the marathoner who is experiencing issues from the daily grind, but could be the perfect massage when they need to take a break from the more specific work of Sports or Deep Tissue Massage.
The massage strategically places wet packs on specific muscle groups where tightness or pain are occuring. These packs are heated to 160 degrees in water and then placed in a protective sleeve so they don’t burn the skin. Similar to standing under the hot shower to relieve a crick in your neck, the warm wet heat brings amazing relief and loosens tight muscles. Your massage therapist can work deeper on the affected area when deep heat is applied. To cool the muscle down we employ marble stones which helps promote healing to the area. We finish off the massage with an application of BioFreeze which is massaged into the areas focused.
So there you have it, three great massage options for the serious athlete and those that aspire to be. Needless to say it is critical that every athlete, whether serious or not, makes sure they warm up and cool down correctly, has proper equipment, and remembers to take care of their body!
Good luck in the race!