Sports Massage – Performance VS. Fitness
Jackson Hole is a natural place to find athletes and active people who are in need of body work. Think of it as necessary tune-ups without which physical performance could suffer.
But what’s the difference between performance and fitness? Where do those lines cross? How can massage help? What kind of massage does an athlete need? What kind of massage does a ‘fit’ person need? What is a ‘Deep Tissue’ massage?
Let’s start with the definition of ‘Performance’ as it pertains to humans – “The capacity to compete sport-specific activity with skill and performance.”
And the definition of ‘Fitness’:
1. The state or condition of being fit; suitability or appropriateness.
2. Good health or physical condition, especially as the result of exercise and proper nutrition.
There are subtle but definite differences between the two and it does not follow that increased performance equals increased fitness as the drive to obtain certain levels in that performance exposes the body to more harm in the way of over-exertion and / or injury.
Injuries can be from simple acts of impact or falls – such as in skiing or cycling – or overuse injuries from repetitive actions (tennis, golf), or simply an over-aggressive training regime leading to strained ligaments or over-worked muscles.
In Rocky Mountain ski towns it’s sometimes hard to tell the two apart. But let’s just say that the ‘keep-fit’ crowd are the recreational cyclists, skiers etc. who are out for a good time with the added bonus that it’s great for your health (IF you do it properly) – and the performance crowd are those who do crazy things like race up the Grand Teton or bike in the Logan to Jackson bike ride every September.
People who maintain good health and ‘wellness’ may live more comfortable lives as they get older, than their performance-based sports counterparts. One of the best ‘keep-fit’ exercise regimes is, simply, walking. (Though add some thing in for the upper body – cross country skiing accommodates this nicely.)
The key is…don’t overdo it – and of course get regular massage that pertains to your specific sports / wellness needs. True sports jocks can be just as much in need of a nice relaxing Swedish massage (90-minutes please) and it could just as easily be true that a normally ‘fit’ person would benefit from a deep tissue massage. After all, that ‘fitness’ we are discussing does require a certain amount of physical activity and specific exercise that works all of the body. Not everyone has the skill, time, discipline to effect that perfect exercise routine, where balances in work-outs / rest / warm-up time / cool down time are found.
Properly indicated massage of any type may help performance athletes and just regular ‘fit’ people in many ways – most notably the movement of bodily fluids, the relaxation of muscles, raising the effects of the parasympathetic nervous system, removal of toxins and lactic acid from muscle cells – and many more.
Performance athletes, specifically, will of course benefit from massage of traumatic injury sites to assist in their healing – but they will also benefit from the effects of increase in parasympathetic functioning in the autonomic nervous system (rest and digest). As a group, performance athletes experience body and mental fatigue. A good Swedish massage is often found to send such athletes to sleep – which is, obviously, exactly what they need.
Hamish and Rochelle.