Earlier this month, Team BodyArchitecture participated in the Valero MS Ride to the River. We covered 163 very hilly miles---100 of them in one day! Needless to say, we had some pretty tired legs and we were looking forward to some serious recovery. For me, that included an intense, 90-minute combination deep tissue/sports massage.
It took me a long time to be able to justify massage as a legitimate form of recovery rather than just an indulgent way to pamper myself. Let’s face it—telling someone (like your spouse) that you are getting a “sports massage,” sounds suspiciously like code for “spa day.” But when my chiropractor, miracle worker Dr. Tripp Puhl recommended that I visit Celeste Stuart at Back to Wellness-Therapeutic Massage as part of my training and recovery process, I figured it must be legit—and I was right!
To be clear, I’m not talking about a luxurious back rub in a room filled with candles and aromatherapy (although I guess you could incorporate those things). I’m talking about a deep (and not gonna’ lie---sometimes uncomfortable) manipulation of muscles and tissue to increase blood flow, address issues like pinched nerves, loosen fascia, and get the body moving freely once again. It’s been so beneficial that when I’m gearing up for any big event, it’s as much a part of my routine as my workouts and nutrition.
We asked Celeste to elaborate on the benefits of massage for athletes (or anyone for that matter) and explain why it is an integral part of a health and fitness regimen.
BA: What type of techniques do you find are most effective for helping athletes perform and recover?
CS: I practice several modalities of massage therapy and incorporate them into my client’s therapeutic needs. The three I use the most are deep tissue, trigger point, and active release therapy. These are essential for helping the body move more freely and with less pain and discomfort.
BA: What are some of the benefits of massage for athletes?
CS: According to the American Massage Therapy Institute, massage acts to improve performance, reduce pain, prevent injury, encourage focus, and shorten recovery time. It basically involves two types of responses: a mechanical response as a result of the pressure and movement, and a reflex response where the nerves respond to the stimulation. Massage increases the blood flow to the muscles to help speed healing by flushing out the metabolic waste. Beyond the physical benefits, it can also give the athlete a chance for mind/body reconnection, as well as time to decompress.
BA: Describe the difference in a sports or deep tissue massage versus a massage for relaxation.
CS: Deep tissue massage is designed to get into the connective tissues of the body rather than just the surface muscles. A variety of techniques are used to deeply penetrate the muscles and fascia, loosening them and releasing tension. A sports massage incorporates specific strokes to help athletes obtain maximum performance and physical conditioning by increasing power, endurance and mobility both before and after an event. Swedish massage is what most people think of when they think of a relaxing massage. It consists of softer strokes on the bonier and more delicate parts of the body, and stronger strokes where there is thicker muscle coverage.
BA: Why should massage be part of a well-balanced healthcare regimen?
CS: In the 11 years I’ve been doing this, I can honestly say that it is NOT a luxury or occasional “treat.” It doesn’t matter what the issue is, massage therapy will help with pain and discomfort, increase blood circulation, promote better sleep, improve mood, and much more. It can combat everything from chronic pain to the negative effects of stress on the body. EVERYONE can benefit from it.
For more information or to contact Celeste—visit her facebook page at Back to Wellness - Therapeutic Massage.