If you are training and teaching multiple times a day, five to seven days a week, you definitely need to plan your recovery time. There is great benefit to doing recovery rides or lighter workouts to get your blood flowing and remove lactate from your system, but massage is another way to recover your body. Personally, I can't live without it. I plan a minimum of two massages per month. It isn't about pampering myself; it is about helping my body recover from the paces I put it through.
If you are working in a gym facility, and there is a massage therapist employed on site, chances are you get a discount on massage. If gym employees get massages, then they are likely to assist bringing in more business by telling the members, so it benefits the facility and the massage therapist. Trading massage for training sessions, or any other service or skill you may have to offer is another great way to enjoy the benefits of massage without exchanging cash.
At this point, you may be wondering exactly what the benefits of massage are? Massage releases muscle tension caused by stress, physical exercise and trauma like car accidents. It improves circulation, which in turn increases the activity of your lymphatic system to assist flushing toxins. Massage reduces muscle imbalances that are either genetic or environmental. It breaks up adhesions between fascia and muscle tissue so you feel more freedom of movement. Massage helps the body heal by bringing you to a calm place both physically and emotionally.
Why does it cost $50-$80 per hour? So why does personal training cost $50-$80 per hour? The answer to both questions is the training/education and experience of the practitioner and the fact that he or she is completely focused on you for that one hour. However, just like trainers, not all massage therapists are alike.
Often those just out of school are still figuring out that not all bodies are the same and therefore they do the routine they were taught in school, or what they feel most comfortable doing. It takes a few years in the field and feeling a few hundred bodies under one's hands to understand the nuances of muscle tissue and the history that is contained in it for each client.
If you want to find a good therapist, ask around. Let people know you want someone who will be gentle with your five year old whip lash, or that you want someone who will show you no mercy and get those knots out no matter what. I encourage those of you willing to give it a try to sample several therapists and find someone with whom you feel comfortable and who treats you as an individual by focusing on the areas of your body that you personally are having issue. I also recommend only going back to a therapist who asks you how much pressure your want and adjusts to your acknowledgments, as well as someone who does not blab the whole time about his or her personal issues. Make sure the therapist follows protocol by keeping your body covered with a sheet with the exception of the area being worked.
Lastly, if you schedule a massage, do so at the end of your training day and give yourself 12-24 hours before doing another hard workout. Deep massage can create micro tears in muscle, similar to weight training and therefore, the body needs recovery time. Drink extra water after a massage and avoid alcohol at least until the next day. Use the time to cleanse your system and avoid exciting situations, like going dancing afterwards. Allow yourself time not just to get the massage, but to enjoy the after affects of deep relaxation and a calm, quiet mood.
Written by master instructor Sabrina Fairchild for community.spinning.com 04/30/2011
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