Massage & Bodywork

July | August 2014

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I t p a y s t o b e A B M P C e r t i f i e d : w w w. a b m p . c o m / g o / c e r t i f i e d c e n t r a l 43 The problem is made worse by the dangerous trend of regarding pain and injury as a sign that you're doing it right, as shown in some more common "inspirational" slogans: • "Willpower knows no obstacles." • "No limits, no rules, no fear." • "You can cry, just don't be a baby." • "Pain is nothing compared to what it feels like to quit." Some massage therapists welcome this trend as a source of new clients and job security, but for our clients' best interests, we also need to use our skills to help them avoid the worst of what rigorous exercise can do. Any exercise program can be taken too far and lead to injuries. CrossFit is one program with a reputation for being especially demanding; its risks depend greatly on the expertise of the trainer and the participant's ability to judge his or her own limits. "I had a CrossFit client who had done repeated squats until his quads were so sore he cried out in pain from my light touch," a therapist told me. "I literally could not even touch him." Zumba, Jazzercise, and similar dance- based programs also carry a high potential for injury: the risk of twisting at the knee is high, and foot problems, including sprained ankles, plantar fasciitis, and stress fractures, appear to be common. Even yoga can be a source of soft-tissue injury. Overstretching can lead to muscle tears and delayed soreness, and repeated injuries can lead to chronic problems at the neck and sacroiliac joints. One therapist reported seeing several injuries related to a prolonged yoga headstand, probably in a student who was not ready for this challenge. These reports are purely anecdotal and not recorded in any offi cial literature, but they refl ect the experience of many massage therapists who generously shared their experiences. One common theme in most of these anecdotes is that people get injured when they do more than is good for them. Their self-awareness is an undeveloped sense, so they don't know how to pay attention to the signals of impending injury. WHY IT GOES WRONG Human bodies are designed to effi ciently manage soft-tissue injuries. In the best circumstances, we heal quickly and completely, with a minimal amount of high-functioning internal scar tissue, and function returns to normal or near-normal levels. When things are ideal, that sprained ankle you got playing soccer at age 12 doesn't interfere with your ability to walk in your 30s. The lumbar strain from picking up that heavy laundry basket 15 years ago doesn't get in the way of your golf game today. But when we introduce a new exercise program, especially one that is different or more demanding than we have experienced before, we risk fl are-ups of old lesions where scar tissue does not have the weight- bearing capacity of healthy muscle or connective tissue. This is when that long-ago sprained ankle may make itself known, and that old weakness in your back will defi nitely have opinions about your ambitious new routine. Add to this any number of fresh injuries that can arise from the new program, and it can feel like your new commitment to fi tness was maybe not the best idea. WHAT DOES THE RESEARCH SAY? A quick scan of the published research about exercise- induced injuries reveals some interesting fi ndings. Exercise is only effective if it occurs without injury.

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