As athletes, we are well aware of the intense physical strain we impose on our bodies at times, especially during strenuous training. Quite often, you will hear marathon runners, cyclists or triathletes talk about lactic acid accumulation and fascia build-up. Sound familiar?
While endurance athletes will rave about the exceptional adrenaline rush, yet increased fatigue, loss of strength and speed are inevitable side effects. Needless to say, that this can lead to injuries! Body stiffness and knots will ultimately catch up on you and your posture, making you feel like you are walking around in a tight, straight jacket.
It was during an intense cross-country training program that my body batteries hit red light, my hips were achy while my calves felt as tight as a rock. I knew that it was time for a therapeutic sports massage to help my body deal with this stress, alleviate the pain and help my muscles loosen up. It was at this incredibly sore time that I heard about a new kind of sports massage in town- a Rolling Massage, offered by Stott Pilates instructor, Ricardo Cuellar Barrios.
Using the Myofascial Release (MFR) therapeutic technique, designed to release constricted tissue with a specialized rolling pin, this massage helps open blockages in the fascia, a web that holds the body together, allowing your muscles to relax and lengthen. Evidently, circulation and nerve conduction are revitalized, and inflammation is reduced. As Ricardo patiently massaged my left leg with a Grid Foam Roller, the pain was excruciating, yet he helped channel my breathing to control, and ultimately dissolve the pain. ‘This will help dissolve the fascia,’ he explained, adding that it would soften and release the fascia by breaking down scar tissue or adhesions between the skin, muscles and bones.
Fascia is the connective tissue that runs through and between every muscle, vessel, nerve, and body organ, including the brain and spinal cord. It is the incessant web running from head to toe, and, in a normal state, it is fluid and pliable. However, over time; the life experiences of physical trauma, stress, injury, scarring, and inflammation cause the fascia to harden into knots affecting our body functioning. These restrictions and the resulting pressures cause muscle spasms, pain, tightness, discomfort, fatigue, loss of movement and many other symptoms.
Having completed the rolling massage on my left leg, Ricardo asked me to get up and walk around the room. Quite simply, I couldn’t balance my walking. While my left leg felt as light as a feather, my right leg still weighed a ton.
‘It’s time to work on the other leg,’ Ricardo smiled.
After four massage sessions, the results on my body are astounding and I can recommend this treatment to any endurance athlete without hesitation. In my 14 years as a runner, this is probably the only sports massage which has helped restore my body balance and has given me that extra dose of flexibility and strength which my body needs during marathon training. Have to keep rolling that fascia away!
The photos are courtesy of PILATES Body Harmony, a STOTT PILATES® Hosted Training Center.