Stretched Out, Scratched Up and Sore…and Going Back for More

Contrary to the images the title may have conjured up, I am not, in fact, referred to a recent bout in the boxing ring.

Rather, I’m talking about my (at least) weekly trip to my massage therapist and/or, when needed, my chiropractor.

It never fails to amaze me the number of athletes training at a high level that do not partake in regular body work.

Pricey?  Maybe, but it doesn’t have to be in the form of frequent visits to the spa.  

In fact, it has been my experience that almost every single spa massage I’ve had has amounted to little more than an application of lotion and nothing to speak of in terms of deep tissue, sports massage, shiatsu or anything that really gets into adhesions, tightness and minor tweaks and twinges that inherently develop as part of any athlete’s regime.

Keeping on top of said tweaks and twinges- addressing them when they first make themselves known and getting straight to your physio, your chiropractor, your biomechanical specialist, your ‘whomever’, in order to figure out what is causing the issue (movement pattern, muscle imbalance, running mechanics, shoes, bike fit, swim technique and so on) so that you can correct it (strengthening, stretching, body work) is equally as important as sleeping properly, eating well (hello, Paleo) and periodizing your season to prevent mental and physical burn out.

How does one find a good practitioner?

It’s hard.

I’d say that for every four or five therapists I’ve tried, when moving to a new town, or when a body worker leaves, I’ve found one who is brilliant.

For me, it takes a combination of ( in no particular order):

  • A physically strong person who is educated in:
  1. kinesiology
  2. biomechanics
  3. exercise physiology
  • Familiar with my sport and the demands and movement patterns of swimming, biking and running
  • Trained in:
  1. Graston Technique
  2. Active Release Therapy
  3. Deep Tissue

If you’re beginning to feel something ‘off’, don’t assume something like ‘I’m getting old, running is hurting my knees so I’d better stop’.  It’s a shame to stop running, or doing any activity you love, for any other reason than you simply don’t want to anymore and have found a new sport you love.

Unless there’s been an actual event- an accident, for example, chances are quite high that you can figure out a problem before it turns into a big issue, but that’s if you have the courage to act on it and take a breather when your heart is telling you to get out there and run now.

Better to take a two week break from your sport and come back strong, healthy and injury free than to try and power through it and start a race injured.

Now, go find yourself a good therapist!

Check out the websites for Active Release Therapy and Graston Technique, for a start, as well as ask friends and fellow athletes for recommendations.   

If your first session felt like nothing was accomplished or your practitioner wasn’t listening, keep looking!

You’re the only one who’s going to suffer if you don’t!

BTW- it’s not only competitive athletes who need body work. Everyone who is human should get some.