Saturday, December 13, 2014

More Ways To Recover, Have You Tried Yoga?

Recovery should be part of the f training for a marathon or triathlon.  Many people simply focus on training and completely forget to do things to help them recover from all their hard work.  It is sad but true and ultimately it could lead to injury.  I have already talked about some ways that I recover such as massage and Epsom's salt baths.  Another thing I try and do once a week is Bikram Yoga.  There are many types of yoga but I prefer this yoga.  It seems to focus more on balance and stretching which is what I need many runners and triathletes could benefit from it too. It is 90 minutes and it is done in a hot and humid room.  Some people may not like that but that is exactly why I really enjoy about it.  The heat feels great and when I stretch I prefer to be in a hot room.  Some of the things I like about Bikram are:

  • You know what to expect it is always the same
  • Many of the stretches and postures are exactly what triathletes and runners need.  The stretches focus on lower back strength, back flexibly, stretching hips, hamstrings, quads and pecs. All of those can be very tight in athletes. 
  • Most places that offer Bikram Yoga keep their classes very structured and prevent people from leaving and coming in late which can  cause distractions.  Less distractions helps keep me focused on what I am doing.
  • I have a hard time staying focused and this helps me work on improving that.
If Bikram Yoga  is not for you there are many other types of yoga to try.  Many gyms also offer stretching classes that are also great.  If you are like me you need a structured class otherwise you will do it half ass.  I have tried setting a block of time to stretch on my own at home and do a structured routine but in the end I sit in front of the TV on my yoga mat and hang out with my dogs.  It never happens and I may do a few stretches and that is it.  A good 60-90 minute class once or twice a week will do you a lot of good.  Remember recovery is just as important as training itself!

Friday, December 5, 2014

One Of My Favorite Ways To Recover

Benefits of Massage

Proper recovery from any type of exercise is just as important as the exercise it self. There are many ways to recover and in this blog post I will talk about one of my favorites.  Massage has many benefits both mentally and physically.  I have been getting massage for over 20 years.  If I am training for an event I get it twice a month and weekly leading up to the event.   On a regular basis I try and do it at least once a month.  You need to find a schedule that works for you because it can get expensive to have it too often.  If a perfect world I would like to get it once a week! I love massage so much I became a massage therapist so that I could help others. Here are just a few of the benefits that massage can provide you:
  • Reduce stress - stress kills!  Many people do not realize how toxic stress is to your body.  When you are under stress your body produces more cortisol which is a bad hormone that can cause damage to your body.  Stress can lower  you immune system and cause problems with your sleep patterns.  Massage is one of the best ways to reduce stress and help you relax.  
  • Relaxation - this speaks for itself.  Everyone can benefit from some down time.
  • Lengthen tissue that is tightened - as you workout and train tissue can become tight and not always will stretching alone work.  Massage in combination with stretching is the best bet to help bring your body tissue back in balance. 
  • Relieve headaches - many people sit at computers all day and this can cause a lot of tension though the shoulders and neck area.  Massage can help relieve the tension that can sometimes be a cause of the headache.
  • Increase range of motion - tight tissue will limit mobility and range of motion.  Lengthening tissue will help improve ROM. 
  • Increase flexibility - Better flexibility will help you limit injuries and improve your performance.
  • Improve circulation - Improved circulation has many benefits.  Better circulations helps to maintain balance in your system and improved blood flow can also help with energy and increase endurance.
  • Improve lymph flow - this is great for increasing your immune system and eliminating toxins
  • Correct muscular imbalances - many cases imbalances are caused from tight tissue and massage can help lengthen this tissue.
  • Improve sleep - with reduced stress and more relaxation sleep can be improved.  Sleep may be improved because you may have less pain and feel better. 
  • Boost immunity - improved lymph flow will help improve your immune system and less stress  is also great for your immune system.
  • Reduce anxiety - massage can be very relaxing for many people which will help with anxiety.
  • Reduce risk of injury - injury can be caused from muscle imbalances and tightened tissue and massage can help with both of those. 
  • Relieve pain - pain can be caused from tightened tissue and massage can lengthen tissue. 
Massage can make you feel better.  Book your appointment today! 
Coach Cyndee, LMT

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Cozumel Race Recap

The bike course!
I signed up for Ironman Cozumel and it would be my 10th Ironman. I signed up just a few months before the race because I was on a high after a good Ironman race at Maryland.  I was hoping to qualify for Kona since my previous race was a good one and I placed 5th in my age group at Ironman Maryland.  I had been having some issues with my foot but I figured since it didn’t bother me during my Maryland race I would just do a minimal amount of running leading up to Cozumel.  The plan was to give it some rest after Cozumel. 

I arrived in Cozumel Thanksgiving Day and the race was on Sunday.  I had plenty of time to adjust and get settled.  I went alone so I opted to travel with a company called Endurance Sports Travel. They are great to travel with when doing a race because you don’t have to worry about all the details.  They take and pick you up from the airport and races.   Going to Mexico for the first time and being alone I was thankful to have them. 

I arrived in Cancun and had to take a ferry to Cozumel, which is about a 45-minute ride.  The day I arrived there was a cold front and it was extremely windy.  The ferry trip was like a picture from a movie because it was a barf-fest.  So many people got seasick and were puking in these green bags the attendants were passing out.  About half of the passengers in the area I was in were a lovely shade of green, grey and white.  I felt bad for them because if this was your honeymoon, romantic vacation, or Ironman vacation this was probably not a good way to start it.  I didn’t get sick but I was definitely uncomfortable for most of the ride and very thankful when it was over.

Group Ride
Group Ride
Someone from EST was waiting for me when I got off the ferry and they took me to my hotel and I quickly settled in and went to pick up my race packet.  I was lucky because my room was not ready so they upgraded me to this amazing suite with a balcony overlooking the ocean.  The balcony was probably the size of the suite.  Too bad I was alone to enjoy the nice upgrade!  I put my bike together the next day and went for an organized bike ride with the EST group.  We rode an easy 20 miles on part of the race course.  It was still windy from the storm but not as bad as the previous day.  The weather on race day called for some wind but in Cozumel on the east side of the island it is apparently always windy. 

Saturday we went to the practice swim and the water was really beautiful, clear, and about 80 degrees.  It was perfect and we were supposed to have a current, which was going to make for a fast swim.  Ken from EST told us to swim about 100 yards to the right (outside) of the buoys for the best current.  The morning of the race the guys on the paddleboards said the current had changed and we should swim to the left of the buoys.  I did swim inside the buoys and ended with a swim in just under an hour, which was my fastest Ironman swim. 

On the bike!
I was on the bike and was hoping for a 5:15-5:30 bike time depending on the winds on the east coast.  We had about a 12- mile stretch along the ocean where the wind would most likely be coming at us from the front and side. The bike was three loops so we had to hit that windy stretch 3 times.   To say it was brutal was putting it lightly! Not only did each lap get worse but, the headwind started earlier so it ended up being about 20 miles instead of 12.  When we made the turn off the oceanfront road I thought there would be a tail wind making 25mph easy to do but we didn’t get one.  The wind then came from the side not a tail wind, and this was better then on the east coast but still tough.  Mentally I was breaking down each lap as my goal time was getting further and further from reality.  I ended with a 6-hour bike and coming off the bike I figured with a 6-hour bike I didn’t have any chance to qualify.  Since I had foot issues leading up to this race I thought to myself why should I run on my foot when I don’t have any chance to qualify.  Then I would think about this being my 10th Ironman and I would like to finish.  I figured I could at least run a 4:20-5 hour marathon and that would bring my finishing time around 11:30 or 12 hours.  That wouldn’t be my best time but it wouldn’t be too bad. I got off the bike and started running. I didn’t feel too great but was hoping things would work themselves out.  I was nauseated and it seemed like everything hurt.  I was gripping the bars too tight on the bike from the wind so my neck and shoulders were killing me.  My hips and foot hurt and my stomach hurt.  After a slow 4-5 mile run I started a walk/run and by this time I almost quit each time I saw a medical tent.  I still kept thinking why keep going I should just stop and call it a day.  Then I would think about what I would say to everyone and didn’t want to tell people I didn’t finish. Once I got to mile 14 I was too far in and figured I had to finish.  I am glad I did finish especially when one of my clients said that I was an inspiration to a lot of people who have quit before.  Many races are tough physically and your mind can put you through more pain and turmoil during a long race than you can imagine.  I have quit before but more often I have pushed through mental and physical barriers.  Being strong mentally is just as important as having physical strength.  I hope to keep getting stronger both mentally and physically. 

My balcony 
As it turns out I was 4th in my age group out of the water with my fastest Ironman swim.  I was actually 2nd in my age group on the bike.  Then on the run I fell to 22nd because of the run/walk.  The problem is I thought I was doing much worse on the bike but in reality I didn’t do that bad. If I had known that I was doing pretty good I may have been stronger mentally for the run to push through some of the issues I was having. I don’t think I could have had a good enough run to qualify but I think if I had known what place I was off the bike I may have done better. I let my mind get the best of me coming off the bike and onto the run but not enough to quit because I still finished so I guess I won! Cozumel is a great race and was ran very well. I would highly recommend it for a destination race just be prepared for a tough bike!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Espom Salt For Recovery

My next few blog posts will be about some of my favorite ways to recover.  Here is one of my favorite things to do after a workout.  I especially prefer this in the winter when I don't want to take ice baths I will do this instead. 

The Benefits Of Epsom Salt And Essential Oils
  • Eases stress and relaxes the body
    • When dissolved in warm water, Epsom salt is absorbed through the skin and replenishes the level of magnesium in the body. The magnesium helps to produce serotonin, a mood-elevating chemical within the brain that creates a feeling of calm and relaxation. Research shows that magnesium also increases energy and stamina by encouraging the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the energy packets made in the cells.
  • Relieves pain and muscle cramps
    • An Epsom salt bath is known to ease pain and relieve inflammation, making it beneficial in the treatment of sore muscles, bronchial asthma and migraine headaches.

What are some uses of Epsom salt?
Whether you like a relaxing soak or wish to enhance your beauty effortlessly, making Epsom salt a part of your daily routine can add a whole lot of goodness to your way of life. To experience the numerous health benefits of Epsom salt, take relaxing, stress-relieving Epsom salt baths three times weekly by adding 2 cups to a warm bath and soaking for at least 12 minutes.. Do not use soap as it will interfere with the action of the salts.
As a foot bath, pamper weary feet by adding 1/2 cup of Epsom salt to a basin of warm water. Relax and soak feet for 20 minutes. If you like, rub away any calluses using a pumice stone. Dry feet, then add two drops of peppermint essential oil to your favorite natural moisturizer, like shea or coconut butter, and rub in thoroughly to lock in the moisture. If you are pregnant or have any health concerns, check with your doctor before using Epsom salts.
Compress – for sore muscle mix Epsom salt with olive oil and use as a compress directly on the sore muscle for about 15 minutes.

Athlete’s Foot - Soak feet in an Epsom salt bath to help relieve the symptoms of Athlete’s Foot.
Treat toenail fungus - Soak your affected toes in hot water mixed with a handful of Epsom salt three times a day.
Soothe sprains and bruises - Add 2 cups Epsom salt to a warm bath and soak to reduce the pain and swelling of sprains and bruises.
Ease discomfort of Gout - Ease the discomfort of gout and reduce inflammation by adding 2-3 teaspoons of Epsom salts into a basin and immersing the affected foot/joint. The water should be as hot as it is comfortable. Soak for about 30 minutes.
Exfoliate dead skin - In the shower or bath, mix a handful of Epsom salt with a tablespoon of bath or olive oil and rub all over your wet skin to exfoliate and soften. Rinse thoroughly.

Here are some essential oils which you can add to espom salt.  I would add about a 1/2 teaspoon of the oil.  I typically add two or three different oils to my bath.

Lavender – relaxing
Peppermint and Spearmint – good for sore muscles
Eucalyptus – good for sinus problems and congestion
Lemongrass – good for ligaments and tendons
Sweet Orange – invigorating and energizing
Basil – good for ligaments and tendons and sore muscles
Grapefruit – improve skin tone

Tea Tree Oil – antifungal and antiseptic

Relax and Enjoy!
Train Hard. Have Fun. Recover Well.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

My Ironman Adventure #9 – A Race Recap of Ironman Maryland

Getting My 5th Place Award!
I recently completed the inaugural Ironman Maryland. It was a great race that had a course that suited my strengths.  I tend to perform better and place higher in my age group in moderate or hot weather with a flat course.  Maryland was all of that and more.  We had a slight amount of wind on the bike course, beautiful weather and a beautiful course.  Each course seems beautiful in its own way because I seem to say that about all of the races.  Most people who were doing the race said the weather was too hot for them but for me it could have been a little warmer. It was in the high 70’s and I trained most of the summer in Vegas with most of my brick runs done in 100+ weather temperatures.  I took the red-eye to Maryland, which in hindsight I am not sure was the best idea to do a few days before a race.  I basically missed one night of sleep because I didn’t sleep on the plane.  My friend who was also racing had a hotel in Baltimore so he picked me up and I was able to go there and get a few hours of sleep before we made the drive to Cambridge to pick up our packet. The next day, which was the day before the race was spent putting my bike together, dropping it off, attending a pre-race meeting, and doing a practice swim.  I had a slight headache most of Friday, which was the day before the race.  I was so busy I didn’t get to hydrate like I normally would which is why I thought I had a headache.  I woke up race morning only to find out I had my period, which was 2 weeks early!  This explained my headache the day before and now cramps the morning of the race and no tampons with me.  This is not the ideal thing to happen race morning and I didn’t come prepared for this. I took some advil and hoped for the best.  Now race morning in Cambridge Maryland we had to find tampons.  Cambridge is a very small town and everything shuts down early and nothing was open as we made the drive to the race.   It’s not like Vegas where you can get just about anything at anytime.  We were on a quest to find tampons at 5am in Cambridge.  After a few tries we finally found a gas station that was open and they had some.  I had a friend racing and my boyfriend was spectating. We both got settled and were ready to go.  This was it, and it was race time!  The swim was a rolling start rather than a mass start.  We seeded ourselves with other people who planned to finish between 1 hour and 1:10.  My friend Christian and I did a fist bump before the gun went off and we were off.

Christian and I before the swim
My swim was one minute over what I thought I would finish in.  My Garmin clocked the course a little long and it took me about a mile to get into some kind of groove.  For the first time since I began racing I got my goggles knocked off (I was able to fix them) and I had to give someone the side elbow because he wouldn’t get away from me.  Usually if someone bumps you in a swim they will move away but this guy kept on and on hitting me.  Finally I gave him a hard elbow that I know connected to his side. That was all it took to get him away from me.  Once in my groove I felt really great in the swim.  With all the people in the water it made it pretty choppy hence the name the Choptank River.  The current kept pushing me into the buoys and I like to swim a little away from the buoys to avoid the packs of people.  With the rolling swim start it was great because you get to start the swim with people close to the same pace as you. 

The Swim
I was off to the bike and considering my longest training ride was 120 miles it didn’t seem so bad riding 112 on this day.  I was hoping for a 5:30 bike split.  My fastest previous bike split was at Ironman Texas and it was 5:35.   I hit the halfway point at 2:35.  I was pleased with that plus that included a stop at the porta-potty, which took about 90 seconds to 2 minutes.  The end of the second loop started getting a little congested on the bike course as the faster people were lapping the slower people.  I had to yell to some of the slower people that I was coming from behind because they were riding too far to the left (which is really annoying) .  As I would come up I would say on your left and in most cases they would get over.  Keep in mind on a flat course I was averaging at times 23-25 mph.  These slower people were going maybe 15 mph.  As I came upon this one guy I said on your left.  He didn’t seem to respond after I said it several times then he yelled I HEARD YOU!  I said if you heard me then GET OVER!  For the most part there are great people racing but every once in a while you encounter a real idiot!   I finished the bike in 5:13 and that was 22 minutes better than my previous best bike time.  I was feeling great about that going into the run.  My boyfriend was keeping me posted on my position in my age group.  I think coming off the bike I was 1st or 2nd in my age group.  I had one of the best times for the bike portion of the race in my age group.
Empty Bike Racks, Soon To Be Full

Coming off the bike I felt pretty stiff but loosened up quickly.  I kept a good pace through the first 6 miles feeling pretty good.  I started to slow a bit for the next 7 miles but still was on track to have a marathon of 4:15, which was my goal time.  I started feeling pretty fatigued about the halfway point.  I was trying to take in some fruit chews and coke to give me a kick.  About mile 23 a bug flew into my mouth and hit the back of my throat.  I think when it hit it stung me.  Instead of thinking how bad it would be to have my throat swell up, I thought how bad would it be to have my throat swell up at mile 23 and not be able to finish because of a freaking bug!  It didn’t swell only stung a little bit. At mile 20 my knee started to hurt pretty bad.  Not ever having knee trouble I knew it was coming from my hip and IT band.  I was sure my hip and IT ban were so tight pulling on some of the tendons leading to my knee.  I tried massaging the side of my leg without much help.  I hobbled the last 6 miles to the finish with a marathon time of 4:28.  Even though my marathon time was slow my bike time was much better which led to an overall PR by about 15 minutes.  I finished with an 11:02 total time and 5th in my age group.  My goal time was 11 hours and I had hoped that would give me a slot for Kona but as it turns out the leading time in my age group was 10:45.  My quest for Kona continues and I will decide what my next race will be to try and qualify. 

My mother and a few other people seem quite confused as to why I continue racing and they don’t seem to understand why anyone would put their body through something like this.  My mother said to me don’t you think enough is enough.  It is very hard to explain to someone who doesn’t race why we do it.  I enjoy seeing what I can do and I am amazed that as I get older I am getting faster.  I enjoy the feeling of achieving things that many people could not even imagine doing.  I enjoy the feeling of being successful at something.  I enjoy the competitiveness of the sport.  I love the people I meet and old friends I continue to see at races.  I enjoy inspiring other people to take up the sport of running or triathlons or even and Ironman.   I enjoy pushing myself to my limit and sometimes over my limit.  I don’t know if I can be faster than an 11:02 but I probably said that about my 11:18 last year!  I have gone from placing 10th, to 7th, to 5th at Maryland.  If I keep plugging away at it I will get there! 

Well deserved beer and pizza after the race!
Ironman Maryland was a great event.  It was an awesome course, we had perfect weather and it was well run.  They are changing it to be a little later in October next year.  I would have considered doing it again if they would have kept it in September.  Any later in the year and it will be too cold for me but for the average person it will probably be fine. I prefer warmer weather. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Managing Your Injuries and Annoying Pains While Training

Over the years I have had various minor injuries that have put a glitch into my training.  I have been very fortunate to have been able to train through most of my issues. I have not had any major problem that had me down for any significant time.   Some of the problems include:

  • Piraformus syndrome
  • Plantar faciatis 
  • Migraines
  • Anterior tibia tendonitis
  • Tendonitis of the retinaculum tendon - top of foot
  • Strained glute medius
  • Sacral cysts
I am sure there are things I am forgetting but those are the ones that really stand out as causing me some issues.  Probably the worst thing I have had to deal with was the piraformus syndrome.  I had this a long time ago when I did not know about active release therapy and graston therapy which most Chiropractors can perform.  I saw a sports ortho specialist when I had piraformus syndrome and had a variety of treatments for it, none of which worked until I found ART.  I had cortisone and lidacane injections and physical therapy and got no relief from the pain.  When I moved to Las Vegas and met a chiropractor who did ART I finally found relief.  Years ago before I knew about ART and Graston I also had plantar faciatis and saw a podiatrist for it.  He gave me a cortisone injection and it took it away.  I was lucky that time because many times it doesn't work.  I recently started having pain in my heel and it has been almost 15 years since the previous bout with plantar fasciatis.  I am training for Ironman Maryland so it has had me a little worried.  I went to my favorite chiropractor Dr. Savatchy at Canyon Lake Neck and Back. He did graston and ART and I had immediate relief and didn't have any pain for several weeks.  I was excited until that second week when it started acting up again.  At first it didn't bother me when running and would only hurt in the morning, but it began to affect my running. I was having significant pain during my runs.  I went back for more grason and ART and the same thing happened. I had immediate relief and in a few weeks it returned.  It was especially bad after spending time in Hawaii and doing several long hikes.  I run in pretty minimalistic shoes and have done that for about 6 years.  I do a lot of balancing exercises along with minimal shoes I am confident I have pretty strong feet.  I thought I would try running in a pair of shoes with more support to see if that would help.  I went back to Dr. Nick and was telling him I bought the new shoes and he immediately said that was not a good idea.  I was kind of surprised and he told me he would stick with the minimal shoes.  He also said that when I do strength training I should do it in very minimal shoes maybe even barefoot.  I also stand a lot at work and he told me to do the same while at work.  I had a pair of Vibram shoes so I thought I would start wearing those again.  I had not worn them for years so I dusted them off and put them on while at work, walking my dogs and doing strength training.  I also stuck with my minimal shoes (Brooks Pure Cadence) for running.  To my utter amazement this has helped significantly!  I am also doing some self massage, using arnica and doing hot/cold therapy.  I think the main thing that has helped is wearing my Vibrams.  I can't really explain it but it has helped.  Dr. Nick told me he has the same problem I was having and he said that he noticed when he would do things in shoes with a lot of support his foot would hurt.  For example after hiking in hiking shoes he would have heel pain.  That was exactly what happened with me.  After those hikes in Hawaii my heel was probably the worst it had been.  After the one run in my new more supportive shoes my heel hurt. There is no scientific proof to back this up but its worth a try if you are experiencing the same problem.  

I do many things to stay healthy so that I can remain active.  I get massage on a regular basis along with stretching and foam rolling.  I also do Bikram yoga and I have been known to do an ice bath after a long training session.  I am confident all of this goes a long way in keeping me from getting sidelined by a major injury.  

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Injury Prevention and Training

Exercise is great for you in so many ways but ultimately it is a stress on your body.  The goal with any training program should be to improve performance, reduce weight, build muscle, and/or increase strength without causing injury.  If done right you can limit your risk of injury.  There are several things you can do to remain injury free.  When beginning an exercise program you should get into it slowly.  Most people are far too overzealous and do too much initially.  Take your time and start slowly don't be in a hurry. It took you a while to get out of shape it will take a while to get back into shape. If you go too fast you will likely get injured. If you are beginning a running program start with a walk/run.  If you have never ran then a good ratio is 4 minutes walking 1 minute jogging doing this 20 minutes to start 3-4 days a week.  Increase your time no more than 10% each week and include recovery weeks roughly every 4 weeks.  You can follow the same ratios for most other exercise programs.  Most people are so excited to begin a program they forget to include the important things like stretching, massage, and foam rolling.  These things are an essential part of your exercise program and should not be overlooked.  Prior to your workout it is beneficial to do some active or moving stretches.  Static stretches are best to complete when your workout is done.  If you are going to use the foam roll it is best done before a workout or after (before you do static stretching).  Deep tissue massage can be very helpful to keep your body healthy and injury free.  It is best done on a regular basis 1 to 2 times a month depending on your exercise load.  If you schedule a deep tissue massage it should be scheduled like a workout.  Don't get a deep tissue massage on day that you have a tough workout.  

Listening to your body is important when you are training for any event or when you begin an exercise program.  If you start to feel a pain that does not go away in a few days then you should take action.  Finding a good chiropractor can be essential to keeping you injury free. Look for a chiropractor that can also perform ART (active release therapy) and Graston.  Both ART and Graston manipulate tissue in ways you can't get from a deep tissue massage.  The Graston tools can also get into small areas that you couldn't get to in a massage.  Look for a Chiropractor that has a lot of experience working with athletes.  

If you have done everything right and you still get injured then think about what you can do not what you can't do!  If you are a runner you have a few alternatives to running you could try.  If I have a runner who is injured and can't run then I will have them either do either deep water running or the elliptical.  Deep water running is a great alternative to running without any impact!  If you are a person who is prone to injury then deep water running can be added to your training program in place of one of your weekly shorter runs.  There are always alternatives and ways that you can keep moving. Good luck, train hard, have fun and keep moving!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Should Massage Be A Part Of Your Training Program

Everyone loves a great massage but when you are an athlete it is an essential part of your training program.  The benefits of massage are endless for everyone and for the athlete it can be an important part of your recovery and help you remain injury free. One of the main benefits of massage is increased circulation and this benefit can be good for athletes and non-athletes.  Improved circulation will help bring valuable nutrients and oxygen to tissues.  The typical triathlete or runner does an activity that causes repetitive stress to the body and each person responds to the stress in different ways.  Some people get tight calves, some get tight hips, others may be impacted in the shoulder area. Typically an athlete will have areas that the tissue has been shortened and it can cause pain and discomfort, which can also cause a decrease in their performance. One goal of massage is to lengthen the shortened tissue and a good example of shortened tissue is on the side of the leg, an area called the IT Band.  In runners and cyclists it is very common to have shortened tissue in this area.  If this is not addressed it can cause a variety of problems from the hip to the knee area. Many runners and triathletes are medially rotated at the shoulders and this can be partially caused from shortened chest muscles.  This can cause headaches and pain in the shoulder, upper back, and neck area.

In a perfect world one massage a week would be great and for an athlete a deep tissue massage is usually what is best. It would be best to schedule a massage on a day off from training.  A massage once a week is not financially an option for most people. If you can afford a massage a week then it’s probably hard to find time to work it in your busy schedule.  More realistic for most people is a massage every other week or once a month.  It is best to schedule a deep tissue massage on a day off from training or on a light day of training.  It is also a good idea not to have really hard workouts the day before or after a deep massage. You could however get a very light massage with a lot of stretching after a tough workout.  The light massage will increase circulation and the stretching will help with recovery from your workout.   If you are planning to get a deep tissue massage before a race it is advisable to do it at least 3-4 days before the race.  If you get massages every two weeks or once a month then make sure in between massages you are stretching and using the foam roll on a regular basis. 

Massage can be a valuable part of your training program.  Make sure find someone who specializes in massaging athletes and does deep tissue preferably with some stretching.  If done on a regular basis it will  make a difference in your training, racing and recovery. 

In the next blog post we will talk about some of the different types of massage.