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Thursday, 19 May 2011

Climbing and Massage

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Why on earth would you want sports massage if you are a climber? Is there ANY relevance at all?

When you exercise your muscles use oxygen, and give out metabolic waste products. For muscles to operate efficiently, they need to contract and relax - a bit like a pump, getting new oxygenated blood in, and getting old blood out and back to the heart and lungs again. Climbing is an interesting one as the muscles are generally contracted for large amounts of time, and not relaxed so much - which means the pump - which works to a point, is not as efficient as it can be.
The tighter the muscle contraction is held, the less oxygenated blood can get in to the muscle to give it nutrients it needs - and the less waste product it can transport out.

This is where your Pump comes from after a hard session - blood which sits in the muscles and doesn't get out - if you don't stretch at the end of a session, and the metabolic waste products are not released from muscles for a while, they can cause cramps, pain, and DOMS - delayed onset muscle soreness. That's the pain you feel up to a couple of days after a hard session.

Massage helps get rid of these issues. It is not only good for helping with circulation - which is a very superficial part of the massage process.
I know some of you will have heard of Duputreyans condition- for those of you who haven't- look here Massage - specifically a technique called Soft Tissue Release (or ART if you are American) can help as a preventative measure against this rather nasty condition.

I know a lot of climbers (myself included) who have had issues with the rotator cuff - a minor issue in saying I have a problem with the rotator cuff is which part of it?! There are from 4 to 12 muscles involved in the rotator cuff - depending on who you talk to. We can help- looking not only at the muscles, but also the fascia surrounding the joint complex.

Once injured, it is somewhat difficult to get it back to the exact working order that it was it previous to the injury. Preventative work may well be the way forward - maintenance massage once or twice a month, working out the kinks in the muscle and fascia through the areas that you use the most, getting an assessment as to how the tissues feel - whether you are working too hard, what feels tense, and what is painful - this self-knowledge will give you more of an idea of your body's overall health.

As a remedial modality, massage can help in rebalancing the muscles in the body. Be it for general posture, assisting in creating more body awareness and general proprioception, or even assisting in gaining greater flexibility. We can help you get better, or just get BETTER.

Back in the day- Mark Twight, Dr Death himself, advocated massage in his book, Extreme Alpinism, saying "deep tissue massage aids recovery. Treat yourself to a massage every 10-15 days. Shun those touchy-feely masseuses. Find someone who can dig, restructure and strip apart bound-up muscle tissue."
And more recently in his writings as director of Gym Jones- "Recovery is 50% of the process of training...Respect recovery... Deep tissue massage focused on restructuring muscle and fascia is a very effective monthly tool."

Eric Horst- writer of "How to climb 5.12", and more recently, "Training for Climbing" has said "Sports massage helps reduce the number of small and generally unfelt spasms that regularly occur in muscles. These spasms may go unchallenged by regular stretching and warm-up and left unchecked, may rob you of co-ordination and induce mechanical resistance and premature fatigue."

And our own Dave McLeod has said in "9 out of 10 climbers make the same mistakes" - "Consider experimenting with other stress relieving activities such as sports massage, stretching or yoga... don't underestimate the cumulative, long terms effects of poor recovery and management of training stress. It will put a lid on your improvement if you are ignorant of it. Treat your body nicely and it will return the favour."

Perhaps what Mark says is the most important. If you want to improve, if you want to get better, and, perhaps more importantly stay injury free, getting a massage isn't going to be about a relaxing, chillout massage. These are all very well for feeling nice and fluffy, and excellent if you are taking time out.
However, if you are training hard, and not resting enough, your muscles will be bound together with abnormal crosslinked fascia, it is likely that they may not be working efficiently, and your ability to get the maximum amount of power from them is compromised. Those muscles need to be worked on deeply, restructured, and made to be more efficient.

At Global Therapies we are versed in a number of types of massage from the relaxing, soothing "touchy feely" to the deep tissue restructuring, and fascial release side. We have the knowledge, we have the experience.

Sports Massage and Remedial Massage is beginning to become more popular at Climbing centres across the country - The Castle and the Arch down in London, Big Rock in Milton Keynes, The Barn in Devon.

We are proud to be helping climbers around the Manchester and Derbyshire/High Peak area recover more, and become better, harder climbers through recovery, restructuring and injury proofing. Don't wait until you break yourself, get a maintenance massage.

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