Winter Sports Massage Therapy

If you participate in winter sports, your body can benefit from sports massage therapy. Interestingly, the average skier or snowboarder, or other winter sports “athlete” is not an athlete. If you are the typical “weekend warrior”, enjoying your winter sport for fun and recreation, then your massage needs will differ from a competitive athlete’s needs.

Snow is settling on high Colorado peaks. Folks are getting anxious to play their favorite winter sports. These include skiing, snowboarding, snowshoe hiking, cross-country and telemark skiing, and others.

Your muscles on slopes.

As you start to play, your muscles react to the new challenge. New workloads can leave you sore. Sometimes you “feel the burn” as you cruise down a long trail. Sometimes the soreness is not felt for up to 3 days after strenuous activity. This type is called delayed-onset muscle soreness.

Unlike competitive athletes, soreness can have a much greater impact on the adventures of recreational athletes. If you enjoy your sports while on vacation or on random weekends, your muscles may be in different stages of conditioning throughout the winter.

Sports massage styles and your needs.

Sports massage is often misunderstood as a massage style just for competitive athletes. It is also commonly mistaken for Deep Tissue and massage of intense pressure. However, sports massage depends on the conditioning of the muscles that experience it!

Sports massage will involve firmer pressure when athletes are in training for an event, but not when the event date is approaching soon.

However, since deep bodywork is not advised when a recreational athlete has recently finished their activity, firm sports massage will be applied less often during typical winter sports!

A trained, certified sports massage therapist learns your muscles’ needs and applies techniques accordingly. If you just ripped down a half-pipe on your snowboard, and your quads and arms ache with “over-endorphinating”, then your skilled sports massage therapist will use relaxing strokes and loosening stretches. They may use gentle pressure and a slower pace.

Other styles of massage that relax muscles and loosen joints after activity include:

* Thai, also known as Thai-Yoga

* Hot stone, or “Contrast” with both hot and cold stones

* Relaxing Swedish

As you ascend to your favorite endorphin highs this winter, enjoy sports massage. The right style of sports massage can prepare your body for greater adventures!

Nina Schnipper offers sports massage therapy for athletes, weekend warriors, and non-athletes at Higher Spa & Studio in Basalt, Colorado. She specializes in pain relief and injury recovery, using fitness training and massage.

Nina is one of the Official Sports Massage team for Higher Spa & Studio, so she works with skiers, synchro-skiers, climbers, and other athletes throughout the Aspen valley and Colorado Rockies.

For more information about Nina’s sports conditioning programs, pain relief articles, plus VIDEO, * Go to [http://www.HigherSpa.com] * For ongoing lifestyle support & coaching, Join the Members’ Zone!

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Sports Massage Benefits

Athletes can't take their bodies for granted if they want them to perform at peak levels. That's why it's not uncommon to see athletic trainers, physical therapists, and massage therapists lining the sidelines at sporting events, ready to step in and help coax each athlete's body to do its job. Before and after games, matches, or races, athletes often spend time with those same wellness professionals in a locker room or physical therapy area.

But what do wellness pros actually do to benefit first-class athletes? One common application used for injury prevention and treatment, as well as general health maintenance, is sports massage. Sports massage is a therapeutic technique-no soft music, dim lighting, or aromatherapy candles required. Instead, the goal is to guide the muscles, joints, ligaments, tendons, and other body parts to perform better, recover from injury faster, and last longer.

Sports hobbyists and topflight athletes alike can benefit from sports massage, because the massage therapist approaches each body differently. Whether you're a twice-a-week runner with a stiff knee or a professional figure skater with a pulled hamstring, targeted massage can result in significant improvements. Massage therapists who work with athletes must understand the specific physiological needs of various sports, including muscles that are called upon often and those that tend to be weak or injured. They must also be able to assess specific bodies to find weaknesses and tight areas that should be addressed through sports massage.

Sports massage is commonly administered:

Pre-event: Athletes must warm up properly before competing, and sports massage can be part of that warm up. Massage can loosen tight muscles and enhance blood circulation, decreasing the time it takes an athlete to get "in the zone" once the competition begins. Depending on the sport, the massage therapist can aim to relax or stimulate relevant muscles.

Mid-event: Muscles can cramp or spasm through intense activity. Having a massage therapist on hand to quickly work out the kinks or stop the spasm can mean an athlete can finish competing, maybe even coming out stronger than before. For instance, a football quarterback might get a quick massage for his throwing shoulder between quarters or while his team is on defense.

Post-event: Just as athletes need to warm up, they also need to cool down after an event. Stopping abruptly at the end of a rigorous exercise period can result in muscle spasm and lactic acid buildup, meaning more soreness the next day. Post-event massage therapy can relieve soreness and increase blood flow to tight, fatigued muscles. During this post-game massage, the athlete can also conduct a physical check-in: Does anything hurt more than it should? How did the body perform today? What areas could benefit from further training, physical therapy, a more in-depth massage, or even first-aid treatment before the next game or event?

Beyond the time immediately surrounding an intensive competition or practice, sports massage is valuable as a maintenance regimen. Athletes can get a full-length massage once a week or every two weeks, for instance, with the goal of improving range of motion and muscle flexibility, or of combating muscle imbalances that could lead to injury. In terms of injury recovery and rehabilitation, gentle, skilled massage can speed healing and reduce discomfort by increasing circulation to the affected area and relieving swelling and tension. However, once an injury is in the picture, it's always a good idea to speak with a doctor before beginning a massage treatment regimen.

Sam Stout is a former massage therapist, now currently working as a senior Internet marketing strategist for online marketing leader Prospect Genius.

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