Bill Koster has been a client of mine since I first started treating in Sydney way back in 2007. He first came to me with some issues that were affecting his strength training. I came to find that Bill was a CrossFit enthusiast and used the CrossFit training system to counter his very hectic and busy schedule as a Director of a large CBD based company.
Bill is a machine, having been an avid training enthusiast, he has competed regularly in Regional and National CrossFit competitions and even won the “Over 50’s” category of the Australiasia CrossFit Regional Games in 2012. He trains hard, regularly and consistently, to keep balance in his lifestyle and maintain a sense of fitness into his life.
Recently, a change in job description and a move to another company, saw Bill taking on new and challenging roles and his usual lifestyle was interrupted by a shift in focus and the reintegration of work/life balance that comes with a new responsibility and position. Whilst his training didn’t suffer, his weekly regular massage appointments did, and I didn’t see Bill for almost 3 months. Having been my most regular client over the past 8 years, I was intrigued when eventually I saw Bill again on my table, what the effect of having not had his regular treatments had brought to his work/life/training balance.
What’s the big difference?
“I’ve missed you”, was Bill’s first response. ‘Having an active fitness regimen where I train regularly and with heavy loading and intensity, I’ve noticed a real change in what I am able to achieve without having had regular massage treatments’. Bill is the first to admit that he enjoys pushing himself to limits and that he probably trains a little too hard at times. But this is what he does and how he likes to balance his heavy work commitments. And there is no denying that Bill pushes himself hard in his training.
“A regular treatment always allows me to stop and let my body and mind settle, at once without having to be at the beck and call of others.” “it gives me time out and also helps me manage my focus and attention span so that I can return to duties I have to do with intensity and focus. Its my downtime”
So why massages Bill?
‘I know that I am not the most flexible of beings.’ When he first came to me with back issues, Bill had stiff hamstrings and was hampered by a disc problem in L5/S1 that was flaring up when he went heavy in his weightlifting. ‘A regular massage treatment helps me to maintain a good amount of flexibility and range of motion in my hips and lower back to help me achieve the lifting goals I set for myself’. Getting full range of motion is and always has been one of my primary goals for treatment. With full range of motion, you have the capacity to recruit all chains of muscle groups and effect functional movement and functional strength to your workouts.
However there is more to this than just Range of Motion. “I find that when I have regular massage treatments, I recover so much faster than when I just push and train hard”. It is true that massage helps to move through lactic and uric acid, ensuring a good expedient process of removing wastage products that are part of the natural process when you train hard, and deliver all important nutrients and proteins to muscles, so that that they can repair and build fibres to ensure you are able to go strong and hard the next session.
So what was the result of not getting regular treatments?
‘I was frustrated by how I had to curtail my training sessions’. Bill explains that he trains hard 6 times a week. It’s the one sporting activity that he has found that allows him to enjoy regularly turning up at 6am (well 5:30 to be precise – he beats the trainers to the gym) and feeling that he wants to be there. “Without our usual sessions, I had to drop Tuesdays and Saturdays as I found I just couldn’t turn up day after day and be ‘present’ in the gym. This soon came to include another session and Bill had gone from 6 sessions a week to 3. Now some of this can also be attributed to his new timetable and the expectations being placed on him from work duties and the impact that this had on his rest time. But we are also looking at the way that massage treatments can assist with that most important aspect of recovery.
McMaster University reported that deep massage after an intense workout actually causes muscles to enlarge and grow new mitochondria - the powerhouses of our cells, that are responsible for converting nutrients into useful energy.
There are numerous reasons that promote and advocate for massage treatments and the effects they have on the body. From increasing blood flow to reducing tension in muscle fibres, creating space for joint movements or even affecting endocrine activity and organ function. Massage has long been advocated as a beneficial and proactive way of assisting the body with its health. But in this case, we see that massage actually has a productive effect on recovering from exercise.
Research proves that massage:-
· Increases blood oxygen capacity by up to 15%.
· Increases production of gastric juices and saliva, thus assisting digestion
· Increases excretion of inorganic byproducts
· Improves function of oil and sweat glands
· Effects nerves that supply internal organs
In terms of recovery there is a simple fact that is the advocate for sports massages. The demand for oxygen and nutrients increases when the human body exercises. This coupled with the demand for effective excretion of toxic by-products of muscular contraction (ie the stuff left over after muscles are forced to contract) means that massage has a huge impact on delivering nutrient filled blood to affected muscles as well as eliminating waste products via the lymph system, thus creating the most effective environment for muscular contraction.
Rest time after exercise is all important. In a recent article written by Ryan Andrews and Brian St Pierre of Precise Nutrition, it states that if you want to get the all important output that is necessary to be the lean mean fighting machine that is promoted so much in the fitness industry, you need to get good amounts of sleep. You want to train harder and push your body – you need equally as much rest to allow for RECOVERY. Without it, injuries and exhaustion will begin to creep in on your regime and impact on your ability to train. And with training it is all about CONSISTENCTY. If you can’t be consistent, you can’t get expected results.
Regular massages can help you get that efficient rest time. Whilst it won’t replace 7-8 hours of good solid sleep, massage helps to treat the body to downtime and restive recuperative sessions that re-invigorate the body via all the processes mentioned previously. Its like taking a yoga session – you need to have the balance of furious fire with calm water. It’s the only way to maintain an equilibrium.
So now Bill is ‘back on the table’ and whilst not everyone needs to be getting weekly treatments, it’s nice to hear the reasons why massage works. And to see it working in real terms of performance and keeping someone consistent with their fitness and healthy lifestyle.