Why Massage Therapy Is So Important for Weightlifters and Bodybuilders
Medical / Therapuetic Juanita Dawson explains how and why massage is so important for athletes of all sports, but especially those lifting weights.
From the amount of time we spent talking to Juanita, it became exceedingly clear that she was not only passionate about the benefits of massage therapy for weightlifters but extremely knowledgeable. For Juanita (Or Nita as she asked to be called) it all comes down to one thing, Fascia!
What is Fascia and How Does It Affect Us?
Nita explains, “Fascia plays an important role in the support and function of our bodies, because it surrounds and attaches to all structures, including the muscles you are working so hard to build. In the normal healthy state, the fascia is relaxed and wavy in configuration. It has the ability to stretch and move without restriction. When one experiences physical trauma, emotional trauma, scarring, or inflammation, however, the fascia loses its pliability. It becomes tight, restricted, and a source of tension to the rest of the body.”
We wanted to know from Nita, what she meant by trauma, and she said that it’s more nuanced than you might think. “Trauma can be as extreme as a fall, car accident, whiplash, or surgery but can be caused by normal wear and tear on the body, including exercise. repetitive stress and even poor posture.” For most of us after a long workout, the idea of physical trauma does not seem so far fetched, but how does that affect us?
“Trauma like this can have a cumulative effect on the body,” Nita informs us. “The changes trauma causes in the fascial system influences comfort and function of our body.Fascial restrictions can exert excessive pressure causing all kinds of symptoms producing pain, headaches or restriction of motion. Fascial restrictions affect our flexibility and stability, and are a determining factor in our ability to withstand stress and perform daily activities, and can not only impact your effectiveness of your workouts, but even your ability to do them safely”
So what do we do about it?
If you are anything like me, when you read this, you become acutely aware just how impacted your body might be from weightlifting. We all walk around with so much pain, tightness, soreness, and stiffness. It’s pretty easy to tune out your body, and Nita understands this. In an almost motherly tone, Nita tells us that, “Part of a massage therapist’s job is to get people to understand what’s going on in their bodies, and to think about how they move, how they feel, and hopefully give them a taste of how much better they could be living.”
So if are bodies are already a mess, what can we do about it? With a chuckle, Nita explains, “The good news is, we can restore that flexibility to your fascia. While foam rollers are a popular self-help option, it’s benefits are generally short lived and site specific. Nothing compares to massage that is fascia focused, Myofascial massage from a professional massage therapist is the best way to ensure that your entire fascial system is able to support the stress of weight lifting, keeping it flexible and assisting in keeping the body in equilibrium. By making myofascial massage an integral element of your body strengthening you’re reducing the risk of injury and getting the most benefit from weightlifting.”
What form of exercise is best for your body?
When we asked Nita, what the best form of exercise was for your body she had to think about it. “I’ve had numerous clients who were active weightlifters- Competitive Builders, Isometric, and Crossfit. Of the three, in my opinion Crossfit training is the healthiest,” she takes a moment to think, “The best results come from strengthening the whole body, rather than focusing all in one area. Whatever you are doing, focus on balance not just in your workout routine, but in your recovery, in your relationships, and in your career.”
What would you prescribe to a weightlifter?
When we asked Nita, what her personal recommendations were for massage therapy, she said, “Plan on weekly or bi- weekly visits initially, then every three to four weeks for maintenance. I always encourage my clients to book 90 minute to 2 hour sessions. It varies according to each individual (muscle mass/ previous injuries that may have left scar tissue, and a variety of other contributing factors) Slow and steady is the best approach to achieving long lasting, deep repair of fascia.”
On where to find a great massage therapist, Nita said, “Finding a skilled professional LMT isn’t as difficult as it may sound, MassageBook.com is a great place to start (You can find my listing there as well) You can search for knowledgeable professionals in your area, and don’t be shy about trying more than one out. You need to feel comfortable with the treatment room, as well as the therapists technique, training, and approach to restoring/maintaining your fascial health.”
When we asked Nita if she had any parting messages for readers, she said in a Jan Brady Voice, “Fascia, Fascia, Fascia, It’s always about the Fascia!”
More about Juanita Dawson
Juanita Dawson is a Licensed Medical/Massage Therapist in Everett, Wa. She lives with her husband and lovable rescue dog Dobby. The best part of her practice is learning more about fascia every day helping my clients learn the importance to their health and well being.
If you live in the greater Seattle/Everett area , you can book book Jaunita Dawson for massage.