Regular indulgence in spa treatments is exactly what you need to recover this offseason and ultimately improve your triathlon performance. That's right: spa treatments. Of course, for many of you, going to a spa to relax is far from the experience you'll receive. Those tight muscles have been screaming out for a massage for a long time.
What is a Sports Massage?
A sports massage is typically a combination of several massage techniques that are tailored to your affected muscle groups based on the activities that you do. A properly administered sports massage can help flush the lactic acid out of your body. There are two types of sports massages that can benefit triathletes depending on when you schedule your appointment and your race schedule.
If you have a race coming up you will want to receive a lighter massage. But, if you are in between events and have specific issues, your sessions can focus on deep-tissue massages in problem areas.
So, what exactly is a sports massage and what will it do for a triathlete?
Continual improvement is the reason you train in the dead of winter, hammer up the hills on the bike, do track work, and train in the pouring rain. Well, that is the same reason you should get a good sports massage. After a massage you'll feel lighter, more powerful and more flexible, and all those nagging aches and pains can be addressed, helping to reduce the likelihood of injury.
One of the best reasons to get a sports massage is to help your muscles, tendons and joints move through their proper range of motion and stay in optimum shape. It's just like that pre-workout warm-up you're supposed to do. You want your muscles to be pliable and your joints warmed up before your exercise.
Many injuries are brought about by overusing certain muscles. This can result in soreness, pain and inflammation. Regularly scheduled sports massages can help reduce the likelihood of the muscles becoming overused in the first place and can also help reduce the initial inflammation that leads to injury.
It can also help reduce the chance of injury recurrence. Massage is most effective at treating soft-tissues injuries such as strains, sprains and stress injuries.
Massage has been known to reduce pain from recovering injuries or tight muscle areas. Massage promotes proper healing of scar tissues and can provide a soothing effect on injured areas.
Relaxation and Focus
Sports Massage can help decrease stress and increase focus, putting you in a good psychological state before your next race. The brisk movements of the massage can also leave you feeling invigorated.
Massage can help hasten the healing and recovery process after an intense race by dissolving waste fluids such as lactic acid.
How often should you get a sports massage?
On average, a triathlete should get one massage per week or a minimum of one per month. That may seem extreme, particularly if a trip to the spa is more of an indulgence for you. But, massages go a long way to help prevent injury.
When should I get a sports massage?
People respond in different ways to a massage so if you have the luxury to try one at different times in your training then determine what is right for you. However, the majority of people will tend to favor the post-race/post-long workout time more. Both are beneficial but the pre-race massage will stimulate your muscles whereas the post-race massage is more of a cool-down/recovery massage.
Feeling refreshed? Start planning your race calendar.
DC Triathlon Examiner Tracy Endo is a mother of two, a photographer, a freelance writer and a triathlete from the Washington, D.C. metro area.
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