Massage During COVID-19 Lockdown

Although it may not be possible to have your regular massage session with your therapist, there is no reason why you can’t still get the benefits of a massage to help you stay healthy in mind and body.

Remember a regular, simple massage routine can help you stay injury free, recover from training sessions, relieve general stress and tension within the body and help you to relax.

So, if you have a foam roller, massage stick, massage ball or other massage “toy”, you can use these to massage yourself. If you don’t have any equipment, don’t worry you can still perform a massage without tools and gain the same benefits.

There is lots of guidance, tips and sessions available on the internet for you to follow, so take a look and see how you can keep yourself relaxed and keep your body in good condition. The ideal would be to include a regular massage session within any training or weekly routine you have. Once you find or design a session that works for you, you can generally work through it whilst watching a film or tv, so it doesn’t have to intrude too much into your daily life.

Keeping Fit During COVID-19 Restrictions

Keeping fit is important during these uncertain times and it can be difficult to achieve due to the need to follow the restrictions placed upon us all in order to keep safe and healthy.

If you are ill with COVID-19 or another virus then you shouldn’t be training, you need to allow your body and the immune system to fight off the virus and this doesn’t happen as effectively if they are dealing with the stresses of training. As you recover from the virus gently ease back into training and listen to your body, any signs of illness then halt your training for little while longer.

We can make use of the opportunity to exercise outdoors once a day and it will help if you set yourself a clear objective for each and every session you do. This way you will have a clear focus and will then get the most benefit from the session. Set yourself some interim goals, say weekly, that will push you but make sure they are achievable – this will help to keep you motivated. You can use the daily sessions to help you build towards achieving your interim goals.

If, for whatever reason, you can’t utilise the one outdoor opportunity you have for training, then look at opportunities for indoor training. Indoor bikes and treadmills can be used and if you can link them to some of the online systems out there (like ZWIFT) then these can really help keep you motivated, you can even meet up with friends in the “virtual worlds” and train and race with them. Again, for each session, have a clear objective of what it is you want to achieve.

You can also work on strength and stability. You can build a little set that works on building your core and body strength using just your bodyweight, you don’t need any special equipment. This will be a real benefit when you get back to normal training.

And don’t forget stretching – doing a yoga or pilates session will really help maintain and improve flexibility and can also be used to improve mental wellbeing.

There are lots of resources on the internet that you can use to help you keep fit and maintain your general wellbeing during this time of restricted outdoor movement. Make use of the opportunities you have to stay fit and don’t be afraid to try something new.

Remember – always follow the latest rules, advice and guidance from HM Government, Public Health England and the NHS.

The Importance of Stretching Post Exercise

At the end of a training session or race it’s very easy to think you’ve done all your hard work and head straight for the shower. But… you should take time to cool down and stretch after a workout. And below are the reasons why you should be stretching after a bout of exercise.

Look to stretch all the muscle groups that you have been working during your exercise. Slowly move into the appropriate stretch, to a point where you can just feel the muscles stretch and hold it for about 30 seconds, then stretch a little more and hold for a further 30 seconds.   

The main benefits of Stretching After a Workout are:

Stiffness and Soreness

When training and racing, muscles go through numerous contractions which leaves them in a miss-shaped and shortened state and this leaves you feeling stiff and sore if you don’t try and rectify the state by stretching. Regularly performing static stretching can help to decrease stiffness, reduce pain levels and can even reduce the frequency and severity of muscle cramps.

Range of Movement

Various types of stretching as well as other supportive self-care strategies, such as self-myofascial releasing using a foam roller, can help to enhance movement of the major joints of the body, including key areas that are designed to be mobile, such as the hips and shoulders.

Stretching ensures that muscles don’t become permanently shortened, which in turn, will reduce the range of movement in joints. 

Minimized wear and tear on joints

When muscles become chronically tight and tense, opposing muscles become weakened, producing unnecessary wear and tear on various joint and structures within the body. Regular stretching helps to ensure the muscles on each side of a joint maintain an equal degree of pull so that the joint is able to move freely and efficiently in all directions, allowing for optimal movement and less stress on the body.

Reduce the Risk of Injury

By stretching, you reduce the risk of injury as you will have an improved range of motion, which in turn decreases resistance on your muscles.

Lactic Acid

Your body produces lactic acid during exercise, which makes your muscles tired and sore, stretching helps to eliminate the lactic acid.

Endorphins

Endorphins are released after a workout as your body starts to cool down, stretching helps slow the cooling process ensuring you feel energised after your workout.

Blood Flow

Stretching helps the blood to flow back into your muscles at a more regulated pace, allowing your heart rate to come back to normal, your muscles feed on oxygen and nutrients brought in by the blood.

General Posture

General posture is improved, people tend to stand up straighter particularly if you focus on stretching backs, shoulders and chests.

Toned & Flexible Muscles

Stretching over time will give your muscles tone and your body will look more slender. You only need to look at the bodies of those that practice Yoga on a regular basis. Increased flexibility, which will happen the more you stretch, will enable you to exercise more effectively.

Improved health

Regularly performing stretching exercises, static stretching and stretches from mind-body disciplines such as yoga, can help to reduce blood pressure, heart rate and breathing rate, counteracting the body’s physiological responses to stress and muscular tension.