Massage & Bodywork

July | August 2014

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42 m a s s a g e & b o d y w o r k j u l y / a u g u s t 2 0 1 4 education Taking It Too Far Exercise-Induced Injuries By Ruth Werner For many massage therapists, extremely demanding exercise programs are a boon to business. With a mildly torn hamstring or twisted knee, many people are more likely to simply wait for the pain to subside than to visit the doctor. Some of those injured people, however, may take the additional enlightened step of visiting their massage therapist. In this situation, massage therapists can become an important part of clients' fi tness strategies. Our ability to help people understand and appreciate their bodies, along with the work massage can do to aid in recovery, can be big factors in staying injury-free. EXERCISE: ALL OR NOTHING Americans tend to pitch full speed into any given commitment. If we're going to get fi t, by golly, we're going to do it now, regardless of how long it took us to get into our current state. Moderation is not in our nature. This is refl ected in the catchphrases often seen on T-shirts, bumper stickers, and social media that promote the "all or nothing" spirit: • "When I exercise I wear all black—it's like a funeral for my fat." • "Victory comes at a price. What are you willing to pay?" • "Their workout is our warm-up." Of course, starting a fi tness program doesn't mean we'll actually fi nish it. This is often because when a person throws herself into an overambitious new routine, the chances of her incurring an injury are high. Then she has to stop; she gets discouraged, and may give up entirely, only to start the cycle over in another year or so. PATHOLOGY PERSPECTIVES Exercise is only effective if it occurs without injury. Even a comparatively easygoing program requires some thoughtfulness, and any type of exercise is safer and more successful when new participants build up their activity levels carefully, listen to their bodies to know when enough is enough, and receive excellent guidance about form. Sadly, exercising restraint when we work out is diffi cult. Combine our competitive drive with poorly trained coaches who give bad advice about form, pacing, and effort, and we have a recipe for problems that range from ruptured tendons to herniated disks. One massage therapist I spoke to told me this story: "A client came in with back pain after a workout. She hadn't done any exercise for over a year. On the fi rst day, they pushed her to lift heavy weights, and she just wanted to use the bar without weights. The trainer didn't let up on pressuring her to do more, and she gave in. There seems to be an attitude to push yourself too hard, ignoring medical issues or fi tness levels."

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