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Summer Sports Survival Guide: Train, Compete, Recover, Repeat

As you pound the pavement for hundreds of miles during your marathon training program, repeatedly swing a golf club throughout the summer tournament season or perfect your backhand on the tennis courts, it’s important to incorporate recovery time into your sports training program to remain strong mentally and physically.

Whether you are a casual weekend athlete or an intense competitor, you tax and push your mind and body to extreme levels as you attempt to accomplish your goal of finishing your first race, increasing your performance or breaking a personal record. Get into the zone of relief by setting aside time to relax, recuperate and re-energize your tired, sore muscles throughout your training and competition season.

Release Tension and Stress from Intense, Repetitive Training
Day-to-day training builds your body’s strength and conditioning levels to help you successfully accomplish your competition goals. Repetitive training, though, also builds up tension in your muscles and stresses your tendons and joints, which can lead to injury and decreased performance levels.

“While you are training, your body is building up waste and lactic acid,” said Daryl Latimer, certified sports massage therapist at Elements Greenville. “Flushing out the waste with massage sets an athlete up to reduce muscle soreness and keeps them going longer and stronger during training and competition.”

To manage muscle stress and tension, Latimer advises athletes to incorporate regular massage therapy into their training schedule, as well as use it as a pre-event tool on race day. Latimer saw the positive effects of pre-event sports massage firsthand when he participated in a sports massage program at Clemson University. He worked with a range of athletes, from rowers to track and field participants, by helping them prepare their bodies for intense activity with a specific massage routine 15-45 minutes prior to their event.

“The goal of pre-event massage is to increase circulation, flexibility and blood supply,” Latimer said. “You aren’t doing any deep work or twisting of muscles because you don’t want to alter anything that will throw off their timing. Pre-event massage allows athletes to reach peak performance sooner and to maintain performance longer.”

Unleash the Power of Mental Drive and Focus
In addition to preparing their bodies, athletes also need to focus on maintaining strong mental health throughout their training and competition. Massage is an excellent tool to help athletes achieve peace of mind and manage the mental stress of competing. Massage is all about bringing the mind, body and spirit to work together on the same playing field, allowing for the achievement of total body wellness.

“An athlete’s psyche is the most important thing,” Latimer said. “If the mind is healthy, the body is in better shape as well. Massage increases memory and it helps get you into a relaxation state. You feel confident and you can focus sharper, which is key for athletes.”

Get Into the Relief Zone with Post-Event Massage
After athletes expend all of their energy and exhaust their bodies during a sports competition, it’s important to move into recovery mode. This is the time for mind and body recuperation and healing to begin. A post-event massage can help decrease recuperation time and facilitate a quicker recovery period as the use of slower, longer compression and kneading strokes flush out any waste and acid buildup that has accumulated in the athlete’s muscles during the event.

“Once athletes get a taste of massage, they keep coming back because they can recover quicker and they feel great mentally and physically,” Latimer said. “Massage gives athletes longevity because without maintenance, your body is going to eventually break down. That is a fact of life.”

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