Warm weather in upstate New York doesn’t last forever. So, most of us want to get outside and enjoy outdoor activities before we’re forced to take refuge indoors.
One of those activities – swimming – is, of course, something that people can enjoy throughout the year, whether they belong to the local Y, they’re are on a swim team at school, or they faithfully do laps in their backyard pool. For the committed year-round swimmer, massage has come to be thought of as a necessity. But, it can also be extremely beneficial for seasonal swimmers as well.
Massage serves a number of different purposes for different people: therapy, rehabilitation, stress reduction, and pure and simple indulgence are all viable reasons to seek massage therapy on a regular basis.
Swimming can cause discomfort in many areas of the body and is largely a function of the kind of stroke you practice. Because swimming involves repetitive motions, the most common injuries are a result of overuse and can range anywhere from minor soft tissue discomfort to strains and even more serious sprains.
If backstroke, butterfly or freestyle are part of your swimming routine, you are most likely to experience pains and strains in the deltoids, rotator cup, latissimus and pectorals. The continual up and down and arching motions of butterfly and breaststroke can also cause lower back pain.
It’s not only the upper body and trunk that are affected by repetitive swimming motions. Legs and knees are not immune to overuse injury or strains and sprains. The leg motion involved in breaststroke, for example, can affect the medial knee, adductor muscles and lateral hip rotators.
If you’re a seasonal swimmer, massage can alleviate the soft tissue and muscle discomfort that arise from using muscles and performing motions that aren’t typically part of our regular exercise routines during the cooler months. In this instance, massage therapy can help in the areas of assisted stretching of tight muscles and pain management.
If you are a member of a swim team – or, if you are a dedicated weekly Y swimmer – massage can serve as therapy, rehabilitation, or as therapeutic maintenance. For anyone interested in incorporating massage as part of their exercise and health routine, massage can facilitate the removal of lactic acid from the muscles, alleviating muscle aches and soreness.
Massage can also be used preventively and diagnostically. Your certified massage therapist is capable of discovering muscular imbalance that could progress to injury down the road. And, of course, pain management and stress reduction are both welcome and beneficial results of incorporating massage therapy into your weekly or monthly regimen.
If you can’t decide what type of massage therapy will work for you, the best course of action is to do some research of your own and then visit your massage therapist for a thorough assessment and to discuss your own particular needs and expectations for treatment.
For some, Swedish massage therapy may be sufficient to reduce soreness, increase flexibility, and improve circulation. For others, a treatment such as Thai massage, which involves a lot of assisted stretching and is known as “passive yoga,” may be the best route for you.
For still others, pursuing a course of Rolf Structural Integration could be just the ticket to achieve balance, maintain proper musculoskeletal alignment and reduce the potential for more serious tears and sprains.
Regardless of what type of treatment you opt for, thinking of massage therapy as a healthy and beneficial addition to your exercise and wellness regimen – and not just as a luxury that is out of reach for you – can reap real benefits for your physical, mental, and emotional fitness.