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Whether you’re already a seasoned veteran of practicing massage or are only recently beginning to consider making it a part of your daily life, you’re probably relatively aware of many of its benefits. For example, personal or guided massage can be used to strengthen muscles, reduce inflammation in swollen areas, speed recovery time from a host of sports injuries and even gradually increase flexibility over time. Nonetheless, the benefits of massage are hardly limited to these more overtly obvious examples. In fact, regularly engaging in some kind of personal massage can improve aspects of your life that you’d never expect. Whether you’re suffering from a chronic illness, trying to reduce your odds of contracting a new condition or are simply interested in learning more about the world of massage, you may benefit from reading these surprising benefits of the practice.
While anyone who regularly practices personal massage or receives massage therapy from a professional will tell you that it has the potential to make one feel more energized, it may do even more than that. According to a recent study performed at Emory University, massage may reduce fatigue suffered by individuals living with or recovering from a bout with breast cancer. While that study is still being undertaken and definitive results cannot yet be drawn from it, early reports indicate that massage may indeed help curb the fatigue and sluggishness experienced by individuals who were recently treated with either chemotherapy or radiation. This study was prompted by the realization that more than 50 percent of total cancer patients have reported using some sort of alternative treatment method to aid them in curbing the unpleasant symptoms that can come with treatment of the disease.
While this may come as a surprise to some individuals, it’s actually very intuitive that massage would hold this benefit. According to Best Health, individuals who regularly undergo a massage, either personal or one administered by a professional, commonly report reduced stress levels after their session. There are multiple schools of thought on this, but the prevailing one seems to have to do with two things. First and foremost, massage relieves and reduces the physical conditions and small pains that ail us on a day-to-day basis, such as pain caused by sitting at a desk for too long or having improper posture. In the secondary, experiencing human touch in a properly administered, nonthreatening fashion has been shown time and time again to be relaxing for most individuals. If you experience stress, anxiety or depression on a regular basis, you may want to consider implementing massage into your daily life to counter the symptoms of these conditions. Of course, you may also want to consult with your physician or psychiatrist regarding your personal treatment regimen.
Perhaps the most impressive and important benefit of massage is that it has the capacity to boost your immune system in several ways. Another study at Emory has reported that after only one session of Swedish massage, healthy individuals often experienced positive changes in their levels of chemicals associated with the immune system. While each individual’s experience with massage will be different, its capacity to boost and maintain the immune system serves as a major attraction. Consider speaking with your doctor about how you can work massage into your daily life.
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Endurance athletes who take part in marathons, triathlons or century bike rides typically have fitness goals of strength and stamina. Your body needs to be strong enough to carry you long distances, and it needs to have the proper training in order to function for extended periods of time.
Before a race it’s crucial to plan a training program to prepare, and most of this will include running or cycling through intervals of faster and slower speeds, up and down hills and longer and shorter distances. It should also include cross training with strength exercises and core workouts such as Pilates for total body training.
Another factor that should be included in a pre-race program is athletic recovery and stretching. Whether you’re a new or seasoned endurance athlete, you’ll be putting your body through more intense challenges, which is sure to leave you with sore muscles from time to time, but it can also increase your risk of injury. To prevent getting hurt and having a setback, you need to take the proper precautions, which include stretching and massage.
A century bike ride will take you 100 miles, and it will certainly test your mental and physical prowess. This may seem like a lofty goal, but it’s certainly an achievable one that many endurance cyclists aspire to complete.
Being able to bike 100 miles requires serious commitment, dedication, planning and training. Once you decide to take part in a century ride, you need to starting working at least eight weeks beforehand to prepare your mind and body for the challenge ahead. Your training program should consist of long and short rides as well as intervals of different speeds, resistance levels, terrain and hills. It’s also a good idea to cross training with weight lifting to strengthen your muscles and exercises such as Pilates that provide stretching and improve posture.
Another key component is nutrition. Your body won’t be able to last long if it is not being fueled properly. Even slight dehydration can completely zap your energy levels and cause sore musclesand cramps. If this does happen, giving your muscles a massage can help. Additionally, eating the right amount of carbohydrates and fats is needed to fuel your muscles and provide you with the nutrients to keep you going mile after mile. You’ll certainly want to pack snacks to stop and eat during your ride to replenish fuel sources, curb hunger pangs and boost energy. Remember not to pack any foods that are too heavy or hard to transport. A muffin may sound delicious, but it can be messy to eat. Also, be sure not to try any new foods in case it affects your stomach negatively and you have to stop mid-race.
Here are some tasty, helpful snack options to pack for your century ride:
Whether you’re preparing for a cycling race, training for a triathlon or simply appreciate the exhilarating cardio workout you get from riding, your body (the lower half in particular) is certainly being challenged.
Most of your focus will be on the meat of your training – developing programs for each ride to incorporate different terrain, speeds, hills and other aspects of riding itself. But it’s also important to remember that your training doesn’t stop once your session ends. In fact, time spent after you hop off your bike is just as important as time spent on the saddle. Cooling down and taking part in athletic recovery reduces your risk of sore muscles and injuries, which can sideline you and set you back in your schedule. This is especially problematic if you are on a deadline for a race.
After each bike ride you should be taking the time to stretch out your muscles and allow your mind and body to return to their resting states. It’s also useful to incorporate self massage into your routine each week, especially after an intense ride. Massage will help loosen up muscles even further, which is important so you don’t create any imbalances.
There are several key muscles you should focus your massager on after a bike ride: