Sports massage therapy for the “everyday” athleteJuly 27, 2018 | by Emanuel Cheng, Fortius Massage Therapist
In some of our past articles, you’ve learned about how massage therapy can be utilized by high performance athletes and in recovery from injury and surgery. However, massage therapy also has a role to play in supporting the needs of the recreational athlete and fitness enthusiast—we’ll call them the “everyday athlete”.
In the life of an “everyday athlete”, we are often balancing a number of things while trying to keep up with our regular sport and fitness routines: work, family, hobbies, etc. This was okay during our 20s, when we had the stamina to manage this load, but as we age, the demand on our body increases (cue the low back pain or nagging aches in our shoulders and neck, which don’t seem to be a direct result of anything in particular).
In order to prepare our bodies for these increased daily demands, it’s important to keep up with things like nutrition, hydration and sleep. But, sometimes that isn’t enough.
Take your car, for example. No matter how much premium fuel you put in your car, you still need to take it to the shop for its regular oil-change and check-in, to ensure its running properly.
To run at optimal levels, our bodies sometimes require tune-ups too — which is where a massage therapist can help.
Here are four reasons to consider adding a massage therapist to your regular body maintenance routine:
Going back to the car analogy, often times you will bring your car in for its regular check-up, not knowing anything is wrong. However, the mechanics look over the car and tell you what, if anything, needs to be updated or fixed. It’s the same with our bodies. Massage therapy is extremely useful for gaining an insight into how your body feels and is functioning. Patients often say, “I never knew that was so tight!”. Massage therapists can also help you to understand how the physical demands of your sport, activity, job and daily life are mechanically loading your tissues and what the long-term effects are on your body.
Whether your massage therapist has identified new issues, or you are working through old ones, the goal of the treatment is to reduce or eliminate tightness and pain that will allow you to perform better in your day-to-day life, as well as your sport or activity.
Have a big race, competition or event coming up? Massage therapy can also helps to reduce post-exercise soreness and discomfort and — along with adequate water and rest — can improve your rate of recovery.
Massage therapy also plays an important role in physiological and mental wellness by stimulating the body’s parasympathetic nervous system and regenerative pathways and mechanisms.
We know life gets hectic and sometimes that can get in the way of taking care of your own health and wellness needs (we’ve all been there!). Having a regular appointment with a massage therapist helps you to stay accountable, ensuring you are checking in often with your body. This ties into our next point: prevention.
Seeing a massage therapist regularly also helps to identify and treat issues before they could potentially lead to injury and stop you from enjoying the sports and activities you love.
This is especially relevant when our daily activities involve sitting or standing for long periods of time. Long periods of sitting or standing create more tightness and inelasticity in our tissues and muscles, potentially putting us at risk for micro-tears or injury when performing sudden or quick movements in our sports or activities.
Bottom line: You don’t have to be a professional athlete or recovering from injury to benefit from massage therapy.
A massage therapist can help you optimize your self-care routine and keep your body running at optimal levels, year-round, to meet the demands of your active lifestyle.
At Fortius, our massage therapists have targeted expertise working with athletes and active individuals across a variety of sports and activities. Visit our Massage Therapy page to learn more or call our Sports Medicine Clinic at 604.292.2501 to book your appointment today!