It’s summer time and what an amazing summer it’s been so far!
It’s no surprise that with how many sunny days we’ve had this summer there have been an abundance of opportunities to be active and have some fun in the sun. While this is a great thing, we can’t forget to take extra care of our bodies during this time. Increased activity means increased chance of injury and I believe that massage and stretching are important keys to staying safe this summer and getting the most out of these sunny days.
Swimming, hiking, canoeing, running- whatever activity you may participate in, it’s important to stretch before and after each activity. The American Journal of Sports Medicine states, “Stretching activities are an important part of any exercise or rehabilitation program. They help warm the body up prior to activity thus decreasing the risk of injury as well as muscle soreness.” It also goes on to mention that there are a number of other benefits to stretching, including increased flexibility and joint range of motion, improved circulation, better posture, and enhanced coordination.
So what are some good guidelines for stretching?
1. Hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds.
2. Don’t bounce.
3. If you feel pain as you stretch, you’ve gone too far.
4. Relax and breathe into the stretch.
5. Stretch both sides.
6. Stretch before and after each activity, it is suggested to do a light stretch before the activity and a more thorough stretching regimen afterwards.
Not a fan of stretching or you don’t know what stretches to do? Get a sports massage! Not only can the therapist focus on stretching the muscles for you, but you can just focus on breathing and get the most out of your stretches! Along with passive stretching, a therapist can also perform active resistance stretching where you perform a stretch while the therapist applies resistance. A sports massage can also include compressions, muscle stripping, frictions, and other techniques that directly affect the muscles.
Nancy Shaw of In Touch Bodywork informs us that, “Heavily exercised muscles may also lose their capacity to relax, causing chronically tight (hypertonic) muscles, and loss of flexibility. Lack of flexibility is often linked to muscle soreness, and predisposes you to injuries, especially muscle pulls and tears.” She further goes on to list these benefits of massage.
1. Reduced chance of injury by improving range of motion and muscle flexibility.
2. Performance enhancing results with improved power and performance.
3. Shortened recovery time between workouts.
4. Maximizes the supply of nutrients and oxygen through increased blood flow and the elimination of lactic acid in the muscle (a by-products of exercise).
Nancy also informs us that, “With regular massage for maintenance the therapist can zero in on particular muscle groups and work specific tissues, they can help maintain or improve range of motion and muscle flexibility. The overall objective of a maintenance program is to help you reach optimal performance through injury-free training. Regular massage also gives a therapist a chance to find your unique trouble spots, perhaps from past injuries. They can pay special attention to these areas, monitor them for developing problems, and help keep them in good condition.”
Whichever self care practice you choose to participate in, any self care is important. Remember, with increased activity- you should be increasing your self care to prevent injuries, discomfort, and muscle soreness. Take care of yourselves this summer and enjoy!