By Bradley Tremper BS, LMT
When spring rolls around, Flagstaff fills with elite runners, and there is not a single gap in my schedule. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to work with many athletes two times a week and sometimes up to three. Many people are shocked when they hear how frequent these athletes get bodywork. “Why would someone need that much massage?” is a common question. My answer….
Maintain muscular balance
During athletic training, very specific stresses are applied to the body and, ultimately, it is the body’s adaptation to these stresses that is responsible for increased performance. These sport-specific motions are often repetitive and can lead to muscular imbalances within the body. Imbalances that go overlooked for long periods of time can contribute significantly to injury in the future. After identifying an athlete’s postural imbalances and sport-specific needs, massage can be a very valuable tool for helping keep an athlete’s body in balance.
Increase flexibility and range of motion
As a complement to a regular stretching routine, massage can help to increase flexibility and range of motion. This is accomplished by working on muscular and connective tissues that become tense, adhered or shortened. Ever feel that deep burn during a massage? That burn is an indicator of a fascial stretch! An athlete that is able to move better performs better, and is also less prone to injuries.
I have asked many athletes what their key to success is, and one of the most common replies is rapid recovery. The quicker an athlete recovers from a workout, the faster they can get back onto the track or into the pool for another high quality training session. One of the great benefits of massage is its effect on circulation. Massage increases circulation, hastening both nutrient delivery and metabolite removal, resulting in a quicker recovery. Naps after massages also help with recovery.
Training is not only physically demanding, it can be mentally and emotionally draining as well. After repetitive hard workouts, many athletes’ nervous systems are worn out and their adrenals are stressed. The adrenal glands only regenerate when the nervous system is in a state of deep relaxation. Massage is a great tool to promote this state of rest and recovery. Most of the time in a session, I feel like I could go on for hours.
There are so many goals to work toward and never enough time, even with two sessions per week!