A common concern that many athletes have faced at one time or another is injury. Whether you’ve pulled a muscle in the gym, hurt your foot while running, or crashed on your bike – injuries happen. But there are things you can do to support your body and protect against many injuries. I call this preventative maintenance for you body. Just like you take your car in for an oil change regularly (I hope!),what are you doing to help treat your body proactively?
There are a number of things you can do in the area of preventative maintenance: foam rolling, stretching/flexibility training, strength training, massage, and chiropractic (active release therapy). Today I’m going to focus on the last two. Along with a knowledgeable coach, a massage therapist and sports chiropractor form an great team to help keep you training at your best.
By the way – in case you’re thinking that this is just for athletes who compete in a sport, I think this is important for anyone who trains consistently. We ask our bodies to do a lot and this is a great way to keep it it top shape!
The style of massage that many people think about is what I call a “fluffy” massage. I think of soft music, is a luxurious spa, with a swedish masseuse, and a soft touch. There’s a time and a place for this type of experience, but it’s not what I’m talking about as preventative maintenance.
To help refresh and restore your tired muscles, I recommend a sports massage. Ideally, with a therapist who works on other athletes in the same sport as you. A good sports massage therapist will focus on the muscles that need attention and go deep to loosen things up. When I include massage in my training routine on a monthly basis, I notice that I have less lingering issues and am more resistant to injury.
When I skip this part of my training, as I did for the last few months, I tend to find more little injuries crop up. Both Kirk and I have had a membership at Massage Envy for the last few years, so that we don’t have an excuse to miss a month. This has worked great for us through Ironman, marathons, and my first bikini competition.
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There are a lot of opinions out there about chiropractors. I was one of the suspicious ones for years, until my first coach shared with me how much this helped him. I don’t remember what injury I was struggling with at the time, but I decided to give his doctor a try and found it worked wonders for me! I recommend finding a sports chiropractor that is certified in active release technique (even better if they also specialize in graston technique).
When looking for a chiropractor with active release technique, look for one that has a fair number of certifications (which typically means they have many years of experience). For triathletes, look for the Ironman certification to find someone who understands the most about your body and the stress you put it through. In Colorado, I see Dr. Kayla at New Heights Chiropractic. In Atlanta, I recommend Dr Nik at 1st Choice Healthcare.
I have relied on my sport chiropractor for so many issues throughout the years – from hamstring strains from running, to a LCL strain from snowboarding earlier this year. By the way – sports chiropractic is often covered by your health insurance, so check that out!
Questions for you:
- Do you focus on preventative maintenance for your training?
- What do you think about sports chiropractors?