We live in a culture where competitive sport is growing and accelerating at an incredible rate. More and more people are attempting to train at levels approaching that of the elite whilst maintaining careers and families at the same time. What I have noticed is that the essential and even rudimentary rest and recovery side of training for competition is neglected.
People are time poor and rich on motivation. In general they are easily enticed to play hard but are either bored with or lack the knowledge of the importance to heal. Most don’t even know what it feels like to be relaxed and pain free! Swimmers are candidates for overuse injuries affecting the shoulders, neck, lower back and knees. With a comprehensive training program any swimmer can avoid these challenges.
Prevention is key and a coach, physiotherapist and massage therapist will work in conjunction to keep an athlete healthy. In addition to training in the pool with a seasoned coach, achieving advanced rotator cuff, scapular and core strength and control with your physio or dry land coach, a swimmer’s massage therapist will keep them thriving instead of struggling with fatigue, injury and simply surviving their program.
Regular maintenance massage is essential for the modestly competitive swimmer as well as the elite. With consistent visits one can expect enhanced performance, better posture and mobility, faster recovery time, injury prevention, and a healthier nervous system. Over exercised muscles lose their ability to relax causing tight and hypertonic muscles ultimately reducing flexibility.
Swimmers often experience reduced range of motion and sub-optimal movement in their neck, shoulders and thoracic spine. A body traveling through the water that is stiff and out of alignment increases drag. To move through the water effortlessly and dynamically any swimmer will benefit from lengthier limbs and the increased flexibility that can be gained through well placed massage. We love the rush of a good, hard session. However, hard, tight muscles don’t allow for effective circulation of blood flow and furthermore the much needed oxygen, nutrition, lymph and the elimination of metabolic waste.
Well delivered and timely massage encourages blood flow, reduces pain, and shortens recovery time. Sports massage is best used proactively for injury prevention as well. Any job, activity or sport that requires repetitive movement patterns or postures encourage an imbalance in the length/tension relationship in the articulations of the body. Sports massage for swimmers to lengthen and relax hypertonic muscles, coupled with specific strength training will help to keep the body in balance and avoid overuse injuries.
Swimmers that recover quickly, move freely and with optimal technique, are able to relax through their range of motion, and are pain free will perform better and more consistently. Massage is clearly instrumental in attaining these ends. Measurable gains are witnessed in better sleep, less nervous tension, more aligned bodies, injury free seasons and faster times in the pool. Innumerable clients of mine have seen substantial success with regular maintenance sessions.
At Balanced Bodies we have a range of knowledgeable and qualified therapists if you would like to see the benefits of massage for yourself!