You put a lot of work into staying in shape. Maybe you HIIT and run. Maybe you flow, spin, and do as many reps as possible in boot-camp class. Whatever your mix, you're likely missing one simple, science-backed way to maximize the benefit you get out of every drop of sweat: Give your body the targeted TLC of a sports massage. "Athletes typically work sports massage into their regimen to reduce muscle soreness and help treat problem areas," says Beth Mignano, a licensed massage therapist who assisted USA Track and Field at the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games. The idea is less pain, better training—a sound formula for anyone with a fitness goal. (BTW, did you know organ massage is a thing?!)
"Plus, getting a regular massage—even once a week—is also a great way to develop another level of body awareness," Mignano says. "When you have greater body awareness, it can serve to guide your training choices: If you feel something outside the norm, you might be able to prevent an injury or improve performance by adjusting a drill, a technique, or your intensity. (Not to mention, massage of any kind can do some great things for your mind.)
But these aren't run-of-the-mill spa treatments. Sports massages can consist of some heavy-duty manipulation techniques, including deep-tissue work and stretching, so they're not always relaxing. (Locate a sports massage specialist near you at FindaMassageTherapist.org.) What therapists are after is creating myofascial release to help you move better—myo refers to muscles and fascial refers to the continuous elastic sheet of connective tissue, or fascia, that covers them.
Read the rest here.
From Massage Magazine, by BJ Dowlen:
Rejection. Experience. Hard work. Discretion.
These are all necessary components of making it as a pro sports massage therapist.
Before you consider becoming a pro sports massage therapist, you should prepare yourself to endure some, or a lot, of rejection.
Athlete's Muscles Professional Massage Treatment after Sport Workout, Fitness and Wellness
Fresh out of massage school, I knew I wanted to work with pro sports teams. I’d always been involved in sports, competed in sports and followed sports, so it was a natural progression to want to work with pro sports teams.
It was in my working free charity events for kids, alongside pro athletes, that I first got my foot in the door.
Read the rest of BJ Dowlen's journey here.
Cathryn Jakobson Ramin’s back pain started when she was 16, on the day she flew off her horse and landed on her right hip.
For the next four decades, Ramin says her back pain was like a small rodent nibbling at the base of her spine. The aching left her bedridden on some days and made it difficult to work, run a household, and raise her two boys.
By 2008, after Ramin had exhausted what seemed like all her options, she elected to have a “minimally invasive” nerve decompression procedure. But the $8,000 operation didn’t fix her back, either. The same pain remained, along with new neck aches.
At that point, Ramin decided to deploy her skills as a journalist and investigate the $100 billion back pain industry. She went on to write Crooked: Outwitting the Back Pain Industry and Getting on the Road to Recovery, an incredible tale of back pain and its treatment, published last May.
The big takeaway: Millions of back patients like Ramin are floundering in a medical system that isn’t equipped to help them. They’re pushed toward intrusive, addictive, expensive interventions that often fail or can even harm them, and away from things like yoga or psychotherapy, which actually seem to help. Meanwhile, Americans and their doctors have come to expect cures for everything — and back pain is one of those nearly universal ailments with no cure. Patients and taxpayers wind up paying the price for this failure, both in dollars and in health.
Thankfully, Ramin finally discovered an exercise program that has eased her discomfort. And to this day, no matter how busy her life gets, she does a series of exercises every morning called “the McGill Big Three” (more on them later). “With very rare exceptions,” she says, “I find time to exercise, even when I’m on the road.”
More and more people like Ramin are seeking out conservative therapies for back pain. While yoga, massage, and psychotherapy have been around for a long time, there was little high-quality research out there to understand their effects on back pain, and doctors sometimes looked down on these practices. But over the past decade, that’s changed.
Read the rest here.
Recovery is a process, and a difficult one. “Often, the client cannot even articulate what is going on,” Broadwell says. “Because massage is not a talk therapy, it can meet them wherever they are, even if they don’t have the skills to tell us.”
Maureen Schwehr, NMD, a naturopathic physician and craniosacral instructor who works at the integrative clinic at Sierra Tucson, an in-patient rehab facility near Tucson, Arizona, says bodywork offerings are invaluable to the rehab clients, most all of whom choose to participate in them.The massage offerings at Sierra Tucson include Swedish massage, myofascial release, zero balancing, shiatsu, SomatoEmotional Release, and Chi Nei Tsang, a type of Chinese abdomen massage.
Schwehr says that most conventional therapy for recovery focuses on the mind. Once you start considering a mind/body/spirit model, she explains, you have more treatment options. She thinks of the connection this way: “The spirit is who we really are. Our mind is our thinking brain, and our body houses this. If you’re an addict, you often have to ignore your body, because you are, in essence, hurting your ‘house.’” Addicts often continue their destructive behavior by not checking in with their ‘home,’ or their body, she says.
Read the rest here.
You notice that your credit card bill is due and you won’t have enough money to cover it and your shoulders begin a slow ascension towards your ears. A little later you see the check engine light is on for the third time in the last month and you start to feel a gnawing sensation in your abdomen, a bitter taste in the back of your throat. You look at your work schedule for the week and realize there isn’t enough time to accomplish everything your boss wants you to do, and you begin to feel light-headed, and a throbbing begins inside your ears.
Does any of this sound familiar?
The stress response is an ability our bodies adapted over time in order to keep us alive during dangerous circumstances. Unfortunately the evolution of the world has outpaced the evolution of our bodies, and as a result we react to emotional problems as if they were physical problems. We lift our shoulders in order to protect our necks, which is great if a bear is attacking you in the woods, but if it’s a bill collector our shoulders offer very little in the way of protection for our checkbook. We divert blood flow from the mucus membranes of our digestive tract to our heart and muscles in order to either battle with danger or run away from it (fight or flight). But if the danger is a leaky radiator, all we’re doing is giving ourselves acid reflux and ulcers. And all that extra blood pumping furiously throughout your body is fantastic in a life-or-death situation. But if it’s only the thought of extra work and not enough time, that constant accelerated heartbeat and quickened pulse could do something as grotesque as give you a heart attack or a stroke.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when talking about stress.
The question then becomes: What can we do about it? If this physical response to emotional stress is hardwired into our bodies, is there anything we can do to control it? Or are we just destined to suffer the consequences of the world’s terrible outside influences?
There are actually many solutions to this modern dilemma. But since much of our stress doesn’t come from actual danger but from our own perception of danger, the answer is simple. If it’s our internal perception affecting our external bodies, then why can’t the reverse be true? Why can’t changing our external bodies alter our internal workings?
Let’s start with breathing. The diaphragm, your primary muscle of inspiration, works a few different ways. It’ll work on its own thanks to the efforts of your brainstem, but it’s also skeletal muscle, which means it can be voluntarily controlled. In other words, if you’re breathing heavy and you feel a full-on panic about to set in, spend a few minutes focusing your breaths. A popular method is the 4-7-8 technique. Inhale for four seconds, hold for seven seconds, and forcefully exhale for eight seconds through your mouth. Your body sees that you’re breathing calmly and then shuts down other stress responses.
Smiling. Did you know it if you force yourself to smile it will fool your brain into thinking you’re happy? This doesn’t mean you have to walk around all day smiling like a crazy person. However, if you take a few minutes and put a pencil between your teeth, it puts your face into a smile-like countenance, and your brain fools itself from there. (Watch this TED Talk for more information on this topic.)
And of course there’s massage. Get a massage. Massage loosens up your musculature and improves circulation, but perhaps more importantly in these circumstances massage increases the release of the feel-good neurotransmitters in your brain and body. Oxytocin, known as the “cuddle neurotransmitter,” is released whenever there is positive touch. Most often associated with encouraging women to bond with their babies after birth, it is however present in the brains of both sexes, and is released whenever there is physical contact with another person in a positive way. Serotonin is another one, and not only does it improve your mood when released but it also improves your digestion, as it is present in both the brain and the gut. And the really great thing is, this works for both the massage client and the massage therapist. As you give a massage you can actually feel your stress levels dropping as these same neurotransmitters are released in your brains.
So the next time the world seems to be a bit too much for you, just take a few deep breaths, smile, give or get a massage, and, to quote Carol King:
You've got to get up every morning
With a smile in your face
And show the world all the love in your heart
Then people gonna treat you better
You're gonna find, yes you will
That you're beautiful, as you feel