- Category: Be Active
- Category: Be Active
Many people, when they think of massage therapy, think of it as a luxury or spa treatment. It is a way of pampering yourself. While this is true, massage therapy also plays a major role in our fitness and health goals. There are many benefits to massage therapy that we may sometimes overlook.
Faster recovery. Whether it is the first time you have ever stepped into a gym or you are an all star athlete there is no doubt that massage can aid in faster recovery and decrease the intensity of delayed onset muscle soreness. We all want to be in tip top shape and back to our normal routine as fast as possible but sometimes working out can slow us down in the aftermath. Regular massage encourages circulation and healing in our body tissues. Depending on how often and how intensely you train or work out will determine how often you would need to keep up with massage. Monthly is ideal but it could be needed up to once or week or even before or after every performance. Knowing your body and your routine will help you decide what is best for you.
Increase range of motion. Much like stretching or foam rolling, massage helps to relax and loosen the skeletal muscles. At one point or another we've all experienced "trigger points" or "knots" that can cause our body parts to decrease or lose function. With regular massage, these trigger points can be released allowing us to return to normal movement. In fact, massage also offers passive stretching as part of the protocol. When you are feeling particularly tight in an area or just want to work on the flexibility, be sure to mention this and request stretching to your therapist who will be able to assist you.
Coping with trauma. There are many things in life that can take a toll on us. Physical and mental disabilities, disease and loss to name a few. Sometimes the simplest gesture such as human touch can relieve the symptoms of anxiety and depression that come with uncontrollable factors. We often take for granted how necessary it is for us to obtain physical contact from each other. A hug or a pat on the back could do wonders, imagine the impact massage can have as well. For physical exertion me might as for deep tissue or orthopedic massage to relieve the pain, but in this case, a simple relaxing Swedish massage could do the trick to help relieve stress.
Relaxation. Rest is a valuable factor in our quest to remain healthy and yet one of the things we tend to neglect the most. Stress, anxiety or even a busy schedule can keep us from getting the proper sleep that we need. It is important that throughout the business of our lives we take a moment to slow down, meditate, breathe and allow ourselves to relax. Massage calms the body's nervous system and can help to put us in our parasympathetic state. If sleep is an issue, try getting a massage in the evening after work or after your work out. A warm bath and soothing music can also help to de-stress our minds and body.
Maintaining a well-oiled machine isn't always easy. It takes some dedication but mostly it involves developing good habits. As soon as something becomes habit or routine it no longer feels like a chore. We must do our best to formulate these healthier and beneficial habits that we intend on sticking to. Always get help from the appropriate expert in every department. Massage is a very useful tool but it does not come without contraindication for some illness and disorders. Ask your doctor before receiving a massage.
- Category: Be Active
- Category: Be Active
Squats are a major staple when it comes to resistance training. They can range from body weight to an extremely heavy one rep max with a barbell. There are many variations of squats and each individual may find some versions more agreeable to their body type or workout than others. Whichever type you choose, they are important to our everyday movement. Some things as seemingly simple such as sitting down on a chair or getting up and down off the floor can degrade as we age. Whether you're just learning or you've been squatting for years, these three basic tips may be able to aid you on your journey.
Stretch. Range of motion is imperative. While it is true that just holding a weight in a static position or squatting only a quarter of the way down can serve a beneficial purpose, it is more realistic to focus on improving and maintaining as much range of motion as possible. This means that you may want to hold off on squatting the heavy weight until your are able to squat at a full range of motion. Ideally, dropping your hips below parallel or eventually down to your ankles while keeping your chest above your waist and without lifting your heels off the floor. This does not mean that every time you practice squats you are required to drop below parallel, but developing the proper flexibility will benefit you in the long run. Do don't go dropping yoga for weightlifting just yet. As a matter of fact, yoga will only aid in your weightlifting quest. Focus on stretches that include low back, glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps.
Plyometrics. Explosive movements will help improve your ability to power through your squat and will train more fibers of each muscle to fire all at once increasing your ability to handle more and more weight. Box jumps are key here. Focus on gradually increasing how high you can jump. Land quietly and controlled for 3 sets of 10 repetitions before attempting a new height. Box jumps can be terrifying for some and it is definitely ok to begin with just a vertical jump until you feel comfortable enough to start jumping on a low level box. Progress is progress no matter how small it may seem in the beginning!
Volume. In order to increase strength and weight you must challenge yourself as well as train your muscles to resist heavier weight. After you are absolutely sure that your squats are performed with good body mechanics, you are ready to find your current one rep max. This weight will be your guide to find percentages to base your workouts. Working sets can be between 70-85% of your 1 rep max for short sets. Depending on the percentage, you could be performing sets at only three reps at a time. A smaller percentage constitutes more reps per set: up to 8 or 10. This takes some trial an error of course, paying close mind to your form as you go heavy or begin to fatigue.
All these tips are useful so long as your body is in normal condition. Obviously, certain surgeries, injuries or ailments may prevent you from performing these exercises. If there is ever a doubt, it is wise to consult your physician first for medical advice or possible modifications. If squats are new to you, try joining a group exercise class or hire a personal trainer for a few sessions to guide you and prevent you from accidentally falling into bad habits that may cause more harm than good. Happy New Year and happy squatting!
Example of Squat Program:
Monday: Work up to 1 rep max
Wednesday: 3 sets of 8 reps at 70%*
Friday: 3 sets of 6 reps at 75%*
Monday: 3 sets of 6 at 75%*
Thursday: 3 sets of 5 at 80%*
Monday: 3 sets of 3 at 85%*
Wednesday 1 set of 3 at 90%*
Friday: Work up to 1 rep max
*Never begin the work out at your working weight. Warm-up with a lighter weight and gradually work up to your desired percentage.