Olympic Athletes and Massage Therapy

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I don’t know about you, but I tuned into the Olympics this summer to see my favorite sporting events: track & field and gymnastics. I was completely in awe of the athletes’ strength, endurance and grace. As a massage therapist, anatomy enthusiast and former runner, it had been an absolute joy to watch. I can only fathom how much hard work and dedication they poured into every workout. And we were able to watch as their dreams come to fruition, simply amazing. On top of that, I’ve heard them speak on the benefits of alternative medicine practices, such as cupping and massage therapy, and how they’ve integrated them into their self care regimes.

I’m sure you’ve seen the pictures of Michael Phelps with the round cupping marks on him and his epic Under Armour commercial that shows him getting a cupping treatment.

I’ve done some reading on it and other athletes like Abby Wambach (a two-time Olympic gold medalist and FIFA Women’s World Cup champion), Kerri Strug (an elite gymnast) and Bonnie Blair (an Olympic speedskating champion), all utilize massage therapy as part of their workout and recovery process.

One article I read had an interview with Abby Wambach and the things she said resonated with me so much. Why? Because they are points that I communicate to my clients often. Here are a few of her quotes from the article:

“Massage therapy enables you to bounce back so much more quickly after a game and be able to compete at the highest level,” she explains.

“Players are always getting bigger, faster and stronger, so it’s critical to maintain your level of fitness and strength throughout your career. Both nutrition and massage therapy are critical pieces of the puzzle.

“Take advantage of massage therapy regularly and make it part of your routine. The physical and mental benefits of massage are numerous and it’s something that is not just a luxury, but should be an important part of our lives.”

Yes, Abby! I couldn’t have said it better myself! Now, yes, she is a professional athlete, but don’t think that because you’re not, that you can’t benefit from regular massage sessions as well. Here are two ways that massage can relate to your life:

  1. You lifted something the wrong way and felt a tweak in your low back. This pain has you walking slower, adjusting the way you sit and sleep. A massage can help release those muscle spasms and speed up your healing time.
  2. You’re really proud of yourself for completing that tough lower body workout yesterday. But today, you’re sore, aching and cursing the person who invented stairs. A massage after ‘Leg Day’ will soothe sore muscles, flush out toxins and ultimately change your bleak outlook on stairs.

Here’s what it all boils down to: on days when you are feeling your best, you’re capable of getting up and working that much harder towards your goals. So, do yourself a favor and book yourself a massage today to experience the benefits first hand.

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Araina Artis Linton

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