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Preparing for Winter

ETMC Oct 13, 2011

Prepare Your Body for Winter Activities with a Combination of
Stretching and Massage Therapy

Staying fit during the winter holiday season comes with a long list of unique
challenges and obstacles, but staying injury free can take even more of an
effort when you introduce new, winter-specific activities like skiing, skating
and sledding into your fitness routine. Before the winter activity season is in
full swing, take steps today to warm up and loosen your muscles so you can hit
the slopes or the rink pain free, as well as minimize after-activity soreness
and fatigue.

Warm Up and Engage New Muscle Groups during the Pre-Season to Stay
Injury Free

Before carving fresh tracks down the slopes this winter or lacing up your
skates to hit the rink with your kids, it is important to incorporate a
combination of regular stretching and therapeutic massage sessions for an active
and injury free winter season. The key to keeping active during the winter
months and staying off your family’s injured list is to focus on body
flexibility and lengthening your muscles in the pre-season. Many of the popular
wintertime activities (skiing, snowboarding and skating) physically impact your
lower body, thereby creating a need for you to focus your stretching and
strength efforts on hip, hamstring and trunk/lower back flexibility.

According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, there are two
common types of stretching – static stretching and dynamic stretching – that are
good for promoting overall flexibility. Research indicates that holding a static
stretch for 20-30 seconds allows your muscles time to relax and elongate,
thereby increasing joint range of motion. Dynamic stretching on the other hand
includes low intensity exercises that mimic sport specific movements. These
types of stretches are good for warming up your body prior to a sports activity,
as they help increase circulation, reduce muscle tightness and help your nervous
system’s ability to contract muscles forcefully.

To kick off your winter pre-season regimen, it’s a good idea to combine
consistent stretching sessions with routinely scheduled monthly massages 8-12
weeks prior to the start of your favorite wintertime activity. Regular
therapeutic massages prior to your desired activity allow your body to release
the toxins found in tight muscles, while increasing overall flexibility and
circulation. Additionally, your massage therapist can assess and monitor your
body’s flexibility range, while suggesting specific stretches and other
techniques that will focus on lengthening and strengthening your body’s problem
areas.

Remedy Your Winter Aches and Pains with Regular Massage Body
Work

As the snow begins to fall and the barometric pressure takes a dive south,
your body faces some unique challenges, especially as you get older and recovery
times for muscle injuries and overuse get longer. Even when you focus on
preparing your body for winter wear and tear before the season starts, there
still may be an unfortunate event where you will become injured or experience
some sort of ache and pain associated with muscle overuse and fatigue.

Lower back pain, in particular, is a common injury culprit in the winter as
you can overdo it shoveling snow, incorrectly bending over to push your
children’s sleds or accidently slipping and falling on ice covered sidewalks. In
fact, research indicates that 70-85% of the population will experience low back
pain at some point and lower back pain is one of the most common and costly
musculoskeletal problem in modern society. Luckily, research supports that
massage therapy can minimize pain and disability, while increasing the speed of
return to normal function. Massage specifically is beneficial for patients with
subacute (lasting four to 12 weeks) and chronic (lasting longer than 12 weeks)
non-specific low-back pain, especially when combined with exercises and
education. Furlan AD, Imamura M, Dryden T, Irvin E. Massage for low-back
pain. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2008, Issue 4. Art. No.: CD001929.
DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD001929.pub2

Additional research from Group Health Research Institute, the University of
Washington in Seattle, the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, and
the University of Vermont in Burlington revealed that massage therapy has helped
reduce pain and improve function more rapidly than usual medical care in people
with chronic low-back pain. Back pain is a health problem that affects millions
of Americans and is the most common medical condition for which people use
complementary and alternative medicine practices, such as massage therapy.
Cherkin DC, Sherman KJ, Kahn J, et al. Annals of Internal Medicine.
2011;155(1):1–9

Whether you are preparing yourself for family fun winter activities or
recovering from a wintertime sports injury or accident, therapeutic massage
sessions combined with a consistent stretching regimen should be your go-to
strategy for minimizing aches and pains this winter season.

At Elements Therapeutic Massage Spokane, each massage is individually customized to best
fit your health and wellness regimen. Contact one of our Spokane Elements Therapeutic Massage locations to book an appointment with one of our specialists.

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