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If you’re someone who has been enlightened to the health benefits of a massage, you know that finding time to schedule appointments with a therapist is often easier said than done. Luckily, we have the power to still provide ourselves with the advantages of massages without having to leave the comfort of our homes. Self massages are a quick and easy way to relieve tension and soothe sore muscles, and there has been plenty of research conducted that continues to point to this do-it-yourself technique as an excellent resource for improving your overall well-being. Check out all the ways that self massages have been proven to rejuvenate your body and mind:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that more than 52.5 million adults in the U.S. are currently dealing with some variation of arthritis. The knee is a common place to experience symptoms of arthritis, especially for those who have been physically active for long periods of time. Fortunately, recent research indicated that the effects of self massaging your knee can be a therapeutic resource for anyone dealing with the pains of osteoarthritis of the knee. In a study performed at the Lourdes Wellness Center in New Jersey, levels of pain, stiffness, physical function and mobility range within 40 patients diagnosed with osteoarthritis of the knee were tested when self massage techniques were applied. Patients were split into groups who were either subjected to 20 minute self massage sessions at least twice a week under supervision, or were provided with no additional treatment on top of their usual sources of intervention. All in all, those who were in the self massage therapy group reported less indications of pain and stiffness, allowing the researchers to conclude the potential benefits that can be experienced through this technique.
Self massage strategies have also been tested for other types of arthritis stress and pain. Athletes who continue to exercise as part of their arthritis treatment should consider a study reported by the Arthritis Foundation that analyzed how self massage can be one of the quickest and easiest forms of therapy available for treating painful symptoms of the condition. The examination, published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, found that arthritis patients who provided themselves with self massage techniques not only improved their grip strength and eliminated pain, but were also able to improve their mood and decrease levels of anxiety brought on by the condition.
Bob McAtee, a massage therapist and curator of Stretchman.com, elaborated to the Arthritis Foundation on how important self massaging can be toward the emotional management of arthritis.
“Practicing self-massage on a regular basis will improve your overall comfort and increase the range of motion in arthritic joints,” McAtee said in a statement. “Not only can we deal with common aches and pains with self-massage, we can also mitigate the general effects of stress, and be in more control of what happens in our body.”
Arguably the biggest advantage you can provide yourself with through self massage techniques is quickly calming your nerves down whenever you feel stressed out. Whenever you apply gentle pressure and begin massaging an area of soreness of fatigue on your body, your body reacts by increasing the circulation of blood to that targeted region. This, in turn, allows for more nutrients and oxygen to be directed at this area, not only allowing for pain alleviation but also providing relief to the nerve endings, resulting in a relaxation response.
Another factor to consider when providing yourself with a massage is that the sensation created through manipulation of soft tissue helps lower bodily functions, which helps lower natural stress responses in your body. Whenever you’re experiencing a massage of any kind, you will being to experience a lower heart rate and a decrease in blood pressure as well as reducing your respiratory rate, and all of these factors are what can attribute to decreasing the physical effects stress has on the body.
The best way to provide yourself with the benefits of a self massage is through purchasing your own personal massager. These products are designed to specifically produce the same advantages experiencing a typical massage therapy session would entail, through state of the art technology that’s proven to alleviate stress, tension and pain. Of course, if you’re on the go and are in dire need of relaxing sore muscles, applying firm and precise strokes to an area of discomfort is the easiest way to benefit yourself with a self massage. You can also perform smaller, quicker strokes upon specific pressure points of the body to relieve tension. Applying heat to your muscles before beginning a self massage has also been known to be an effective source for loosening up stressed out soft tissue.
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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: