Massage – Luxury or Necessity?

By Simon Cowen, Personal Trainer

With almost two thirds of Britain now being classified as physically inactive- with most people, particularly women, failing to do even the minimum recommended amount of ‘moderate’ exercise, illness has risen to an all time high.

The prospect of going to a gym and working amongst strangers is intimidating to most. As a direct result general well-being deteriorates and bad habits which merely niggled become a serious concern, such as lower back pains, tension headaches and in severe cases debilitating injuries, all of which can be helped and even corrected through sports massage therapy.

Myth Vs. Reality

When a massage is suggested to people, two impressions immediately spring to mind. One, a room lot only by four large scented candles, ‘mood’ music playing in the background and heated stones prepared to suck toxins out of the body. Two, a garishly painted room somewhere in Soho, with a woman going into detail about the house extras.

The practicality of massage is far less glamorous than the ideas given. It is a chance for a person to relax and especially with working in London – it is a necessity.

Relaxing helps to reduce stress, which in turn reduces the chances of suffering from a stress related illness e.g. stroke, Angina.

Not only is it mentally pleasing, physically the benefits are numerous. Through acts of Tapotement (striking movements) the lymph system is stimulated, thus increasing the body’s removal of toxins and waste. This process of removal is integral when exercising, for during strenuous activities (working out) lactic acid builds up in the muscles, which leads to stiffness and in most cases delays the return to gym. Via deep tissue massage this build up can be reduced and stiffness alleviated. These two factors are not solely exclusive to people who train. The simple act of sitting for as little as six hours a day can prove to be as limiting.

Consequence of Stiffness

A simple sum to work out, a person spends six hours a day, five days a week slouching in front of a computer for one year of their life. All of a sudden this small amount of time becomes an age. Reaching down to pick a pen up off the floor isn’t possible without bending the legs. Stiffness has set in; weekends are now spent hobbling around the house because the twinge you felt in your back two months ago has become an acute ball of pain.

As a direct consequence of this, the surrounding muscle area has gone into spasm. The ailment sounds severe the treatment is less. Instead of sitting in the doctor’s waiting room for half an hour your time can be spent having trigger point treatment and soft tissue release.

Active or sedentary lifestyles, both share one common ailment. Through neither group stretching nor seeking aid, range of movement becomes limited (remember going for that pen?) This might not sound detrimental; after all touching your toes is what an aerobic instructor does. However over a period if this is left untreated general day-to-day activities will become restricted. Muscle tears and ruptures once not thought about could in a fact occur through this process of adaptive shortening.

Joint ache and degeneration, as direct result of the wear-and-tear process is inevitable.

Carpal tunnel syndrome, Tennis elbow and Runner’s knee are all forms of joint ailment and call all be avoided by spending twenty minutes to half an hour once a week on being pampered and reinvigorated.

You Decide!

This is just the tip of the iceberg with regards to what sports massage therapy can do for you. After reading over this article it should be clear which is the right answer. Just in case there is any doubt I pose this test: While you were reading this was your back straight? Shoulders slightly depressed and retracted with your head up high? Or were you slouching at your desk with two hours down and four hours to go?

© Simon Cowen, Fitness First Personal Trainer

For more information, please contact Simon: simongcowen@yahoo.co.uk

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