Recently many people have embraced the opportunity to devote more time and attention to their health. For most, this has meant training to meet their fitness goals which is one big silver lining. At Dryland, we devote time not just to training, but to self-care.
Self-care is a broad term and can include anything from stretching to nutrition to sleep! In today’s blog, Bodywork Specialist and Coach at Dryland, Jen, shares some thoughts about the importance of self-massage.
Many of us are missing our massage therapists during this quarantine. I know I am!! For others, massage may be a new concept entirely. While it may be weeks or months until we can receive bodywork again, there is much we can do for ourselves at home using self-massage techniques. This is hugely important for many reasons:
Self-massage is a tremendous ally in preventing injury!
As we begin training more, and perhaps adding new, less familiar elements to our routines, our risk for injury grows. The healthier our joints and tissues are, the less we are at risk for the most common training issues. Next, self-massage is a remarkable antidote to systemic stress. Needless to say for most of us stress levels are higher right now. The toxicity of high-stress levels is damaging to every system of the body, leaving us with more vulnerable immune systems.
The body is a powerful pathway into the mind, and the relaxation response from the body during self-massage has a real impact on the entire nervous system. The flow of oxygenated blood increases throughout the body & organ systems, lymphatic drainage flushes inflammation out of tissues, cortisol lowers while serotonin rises, causing an overall positive hormonal response.
Alright, enough science.
The most important point is that it feels good. The better we feel, the better equipped we are to meet all the demands of our daily life. The better we feel, the higher quality the quality of our sleep; the better our sleep, the better our training. The ripple effect of good self-massage is long and translates into every other area of health.
Our hands, alas, are not the best tool for self-massage. Not only do our hands tire too quickly, but the energy it takes from our arms and shoulders is counterproductive. The solution? Massage tools.
At Dyland, we use a variety of tools for self-massage, but of course we value tools that deliver effective and efficient solutions. As you will see in some of our tutorials, Power Plate provides both a quality tool and the positive effects of self-massage through vibration. Different tools are best for different parts of the body; for example, the Dual Sphere is wonderful for the spine, but perhaps too intense for the quads. Having a variety of differently shaped tools and knowing how to use them can be tricky!! In this week’s Instagram, Coach Jen will be posting some tutorials on how best to use self-massage tools.
Our body’s muscles and connective tissues are complex and sensitive; they react to stimuli such as pressure, heat, and speed differently. With pressure, it’s important to ease into it gently, and not jab yourself as hard as you can. Harder is not better when it comes to massage, and the desire for aggressive pressure is generally more of a psychological craving.
It sounds counterintuitive, but pressure does not equal depth. Going too hard or too fast causes the muscle to seize up when what you want it to do is release. Think of warming up into the massage, like you would a workout, and then avoid going too hard, even when it’s tempting to really dig into the sore areas.
Take good care of yourselves, everyone! Let us know how it goes with your self-massage, and stay tuned for the tutorial videos. Feel free to reach out to Jen with any questions!