Around this time of year I often experience a strange phenomenon at the office that I will call the “Off-Season Lull,” characterized by the absence of many of my clients who are competitive runners, triathletes, golfers, etc. As the weather warms up they return much like Robins, the harbingers of Spring. When I inquire as to their whereabouts over winter, I usually get a response along the lines of, “Well I’ve only been doing base training, so I didn’t feel like I needed massage” or worse, “I didn’t feel like I DESERVED a massage.”
The truth is, the off-season is the perfect time to get sports massage because it is a time where you can work on any structural changes that you need to address, but wouldn’t want to during your sport season for fear of how it might effect performance. Do you have tight muscles in your back that are limiting torso rotation during your golf swing, but are scared to address it because it might impact your long game? Do you have an old injury that reminds you of its existence when you do a long run, but feel there is nothing you can do about it? A common mistake many athletes make is to come in for a massage a few days before their event and want to “fix” their tight hamstrings or their plantar fasciitis. But that’s the wrong time for fixing things. You don’t have proper time to adjust to structural changes and will either end up having a poor performance, or worse, injured.
When I was taking Advanced Sports Massage training I was also training for my first half Ironman. I was about 3 months out from my target race. The instructor knew this and asked if I would volunteer to be “the body” as he demonstrated the various massage techniques we were learning. Never one to pass up an opportunity to receive bodywork from a master, I agreed.
The work was very deep and specific, focused on the muscles of the lower leg that control the movements of the foot and ankle. As a teenager I had suffered a second degree ankle sprain during a gymnastics meet. It didn’t keep me from running/biking as an adult, but I noticed some stiffness particularly after long runs/rides. After the instructor finished demonstrating the massage techniques, he cautioned me that I might experience some changes in my range of motion which could affect my running gait. So the next morning I decided to go out for an easy run to test my new range of motion. I was so grateful that he had prepared me, otherwise I certainly would have face planted a time or two. I had a newfound freedom of movement that I definitely needed to adjust to. It felt like I had, for lack of a technical term, floppy feet. I tripped over my own toes a few times during that short run. But over the next week, as I adjusted to the flexibility in my ankles I began to enjoy a longer, more fluid stride than I had ever experienced as a runner.
The off-season is the perfect time to work on those chronic issues, so that you can gradually adjust to the changes. Then, during the competition season we can maintain your athletic health and catch the little things before they become problematic. So if you’ve signed up for a Summer marathon/triathlon, or if you have your eye on the club tennis/golf championship, do yourself a favor and schedule an off-season sports massage. Let Connective Touch Therapeutic Massage help get you ready for your best season yet!
Happy Off-Season training (even if it’s only base)!