Positive Massage Therapy

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Self Care: Stretching and Movement

Hamstring stretch |  Los Altos, Palo Alto, Mountain View
Hamstring stretch

Positive Massage Therapy client feedback:
Steven, I wanted to thank you again for the great massage just prior to my marathon. I thought I was in the best condition possible to run the race.
-Matt T,Woodside

Sports Massage uses a combination of massage and stretching techniques to help prepare for and recover from intense physical activity(see Self Stretches.)  Benefits include enhanced athletic performance, faster workout and competition recovery, fewer injuries and faster recovery from injury.  It can treat areas of tightness and limited mobility caused by over training and focus on a single sport or activity.
Professional and elite athletes make massage an essential part of their training and competition regimen.  The Beijing Olympics brought a lot of attention to athletes who get regular massage.   The best example is swimmer Dara Torres, who is still winning medals at 41 and gets massage three times a week plus assisted stretching every day.

Here are quotes from some of the athletes and links to the full stories, plus an article from massagetherapy.com on Sports Massage:
Dara Torres
"Torres books a massage three times a week..."
"Torres obsessively follows a regimented recovery schedule of eating, drinking, stretching and massage."
Michael Phelps
"I have been getting two massages a day and ice baths," Phelps said.
Lolo Jones
"A businessman needs a laptop. Athletes need massages and the right diet."
Kerri Walsh
"I am a big believer in massage to help get circulation to injured areas."


Positive Massage Therapy client feedback:
Thanks for the massage; it was great quality. Even more valuable to me, however, was the body balance, exercise and stretching advice. Like you said, I do things that are hard on my body. So I'll always need massages. Telling me how to prevent injury isn't going to eliminate the need for massage, but I have never gotten so much good posture, workout and stretching advice from a massage therapist.
-Andy C, Los Altos


Positive Massage Therapy also offers personal training. Here's an article on why they work so well together from Steven Rice Fitness:

Combining Massage and Personal Training
Two great ways to care for your body are massage and exercise.  The importance of each is familiar,  but less well known is how the two complement each other.  In fact they are often both required to resolve common pain, posture, and movement issues.  NB:  First check with a medical professional to diagnose the problem.

Massage and other forms of soft tissue bodywork have benefits including reducing tension in muscles and fascia, and breaking down undesirable adhesions which can form within the tissues.  This release can help restore mobility and range of motion.  The body and mind relax and feel at ease.

Exercise serves to strengthen and build new efficient muscle and connective tissue by using controlled deliberate stress.  The body is energized, and the capacity to deal with unintentional stress is increased.  Together with the physical changes, good exercise develops new motor patterns- neurological conditioning of how the muscles work together to create movement and stability.

Often muscular pain and dysfunction are caused by a combination of over-active, shortened muscles in one area and weakened, over-stretched opposing muscles.  Resolving the problem in these cases requires treating both sets of muscles with a combination of massage and exercise.

It is also essential that as flexibility in an area increases, the ability to support and protect the body in that area is also developed.  Increasing the range of motion without increasing strength and control in that range can cause susceptibility to injury and joint dysfunction.

A commonly successful strategy is to begin with focused soft tissue work, including massage and facilitated stretching, at the beginning of the treatment program.  This is to alleviate pain and release tissue.  Specific corrective exercises are then added to address muscle imbalances and deficiencies.  As progress is made the program transitions to more general "maintenance" massage and integrated, functional strength training.

By combining the release of massage with structured growth from personal training, soft tissue is remodeled and the body becomes less painful and restricted, stronger and more mobile, and less likely to be injured. 

© 2010 Steven Rice

At the Top of Your Game
Sports Massage a Must for Athletic Performance
By Cathy Ulrich
"It was my first marathon and I'd been fighting a 20 mile-an-hour headwind for most of the race. When I finished, my upper back and hamstrings were so tight I couldn't stretch them myself," says Colorado athlete Camie Larson. "My husband, Jamie, found me and led me to the massage line. When I got to the massage therapist, she quickly assessed my condition. She worked on my hamstrings, softening and gently stretching them until they were loose enough so I could stretch them myself the rest of the day. She also worked on my back and shoulders, which were tight from battling the headwind. I'm convinced I would have been in big trouble had I not gotten the massage."
Larson is just one example of a triathlete and runner who includes massage in her regular training routine. She commits to a massage every other week during the heaviest part of her training season and says, "If I get too busy and don't get a massage, I really notice the difference. My legs and shoulders are tighter and it's much harder to recover from training sessions."

Professional athletes have known about the benefits of regular massage for some time, but amateur athletes and even weekend warriors find that massage is important for them, too. Most trainers and coaches advise their clients to get regular massage to enhance workouts, recover from competition, and rehabilitate injuries.
Muscles and Massage Our muscles are designed to adapt to the demand of strenuous exercise. Athletic training and competition, or even exertion from heavy physical work, tears down the muscles involved. When muscles are allowed to recover following a workout, they increase their number of fibers to respond to the demand. This adaptation process builds strength in muscles and in the structural support of the surrounding soft tissues. It also affects their ability to relax.

Regular massage reduces the risk of injury by maintaining flexibility and range of motion. By helping the body eliminate the metabolic by-products of a workout, massage shortens recovery time and reduces soreness. In addition, massage improves circulation, which enhances athletic performance by increasing the oxygen and nutrient supply to the muscles.

Triathletes and runners aren't the only athletes who benefit. Cyclists and winter sports fanatics are taking to massage as well. A massage therapist can help assess each athlete's problem areas and target these specifically.

When to Get Massage Depending on the athlete's specific sport and physical demands, massage can be targeted to different aspects of the athlete's needs. Massage is most effective when integrated throughout an individual's training program.

Training By getting regular massages during the training period prior to an event, an athlete can avoid injury, maintain flexibility and range of motion, recover more quickly from workouts, and reduce fatigue. Depending on how strenuous the training, it may be important to see your massage therapist weekly or even more often, especially during the heaviest part of your training. Your massage therapist can work with you to establish a schedule for your needs.

Pre-Event Massage Many formal athletic events, including running races, triathlons, and tennis tournaments, provide onsite massage. Pre-event massages are usually short (10-15 minutes), and are designed to increase circulation, relax muscle tension, and calm pre-event jitters. A short massage can enhance performance so the athlete stays relaxed and on his/her game plan. For pre-event massage, talk to the therapist about your massage history. Bodies used to massage will react differently than those unaccustomed to bodywork.

Post-Event Massage Recovery is the primary purpose of post-event massage. Athletes push themselves harder during an event than while training. For example, during a marathon most athletes run a greater distance during the event than they've ever run during their training. A massage afterwards is key. In Camie Larson's case, her massage therapist was able to relax her muscle tone, improve her circulation, and restore her flexibility. This allowed for a quicker recovery and return to training without the stiffness and soreness she would have had otherwise. Post-event massage can be that first assessment for potential injuries, and more serious medical conditions (heat exhaustion or hypothermia) may be identified early and treated promptly.

Rehabilitation Muscle strains, bruises from contact sports, and chronic soreness need special attention. Whether encountered during training or during an event, massage is a key component in assisting an athlete to return to their sport sooner. Massage therapists can work closely with doctors and athletic trainers to establish a schedule for therapy. Specific manual techniques reduce scar tissue and muscle spasm, and the enhanced circulation achieved from massage is crucial to healing.

"I'd pay more for an event to have massage available," Larson says. "When I compete in events where there's no massage, I definitely notice a difference the next day. When I'm training, my massage therapist works out the kinks, which allows me to train a little harder. It's the difference between having fun and being a hurting unit."

Whether its professional marathon training or weekend warrior sports, getting a massage can ease muscle soreness, help your body recover more quickly, and get you ready to go again. And, of course, massage helps you deeply relax--an important key to overall wellness.
© 2007 Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals

Serving Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Palo Alto, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Menlo Park, Cupertino,  Stanford, Woodside, Portola Valley and the entire Bay Area.

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Positive Massage Therapy
Los Altos, California