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First Appeared in: RaceCenter Northwest, September/October, 1995, page 41.

The Magic Touch

Dr. Allen using bodywork techniques
by Dr. Richard Allen

Everyone knows massage feels good, but did you know it can rev you up before an event and greatly assist your recovery afterwards?

Hooked On A Feeling

Pre-event massage is designed to invigorate, stimulate and prepare the muscles and tendons for a challenging exertion. It involves jostling, shaking, kneading, and percussive types of movements. These stimulate the nervous and circulatory systems and skeletal muscles, putting your body into a state of preparedness. Combined with your own adrenaline, pre-event massage can give you an added competitive edge.

Post-event massage dramatically increases the body's ability to recover from strenuous exercise. It increases circulation to fatigued muscles, flushing out lactic acid and other cellular debris and brings in newly-oxygenated and nutrient-rich blood. This is aiso why post-event water consumption is very important, as is all-around good nutrition. Muscles held in contraction over an extended period suffer from a lack of circulation. Post-event massage can immediately address these areas.

Paying Your Debts

Along with oxygen and nutrient debt, muscle tissue suffers micro-trauma or tiny tears when you exercise. The body's response is to send in collagen fibers, which form rather haphazard "patches" or adhesions of scar tissue over the tears. These patches prevent the muscle from performing optimally by inhibiting the muscle's ability to stretch and contract along a specific line of stress. Because adhesions limit movement at a specific point, this point becomes a weak spot that tears again. In addition, the adhesion may prevent tiny nerve fibers from re-growing properly into the injured area. Additional fibers are put out to try to go through the adhesion. These fibers are more sensitive to pain than usual. With each re-injury, the scar tissue patch gets bigger, the muscle's range of motion gets smaller, the area becomes more sensitive to pain, and the risk of injury increases in a worsening cycle.

Dr. Allen massaging patient

Break It Up

Massage assists the proper healing process by breaking up collagen scar tissue that forms across the normal lines of muscle fibers, thereby allowing the patch to align with natural lines of stress, giving it more flexibility and strength. Chiropractic manipulation also aids in restoring and maintaining proper joint motion. Proper stretching and the application of ice also discourage adhesions. Special neuromuscular patterning techniques used by your doctor or therapist aid in re-educating the body to move normally. The muscle and joints maintain a more complete range of motion. Thus, the risk of injury is reduced.

Natural Stimulation

Massage also stimulates functioning of the immune system, helps regulate the nervous system to reduce the effects of stress, and can bring a deeper awareness of one's body. It helps the body to relax, repair, and prepare for the next athletic event.

Multiple Benefits:

Professionals and Olympic athletes are aware of the natural benefits of massage and chiropractic used in combination with proper hydration, nutrition, stretching, and training techniques. Many organizations and individual athletes have chiropractic doctors and massage therapists as integral parts of their health care team.

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