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Natural Awakenings Milwaukee

Massage Prepares Muscles for Warm-Weather Fun

May 31, 2013 10:43AM ● By Rob Reader and Wendy Halfpap

As warmer weather arrives in Wisconsin, most people are anxious to get outdoors and start their summer activities. While many people take their sports seriously, playing competitively and with passion, they may be prone to minor injuries if they do not take the time to properly stretch and strengthen. Active people can take steps to avoid injury and being slowed down by the aches and pains, both of which can prevent them from doing what they love.

One common but avoidable injury from overuse is tendonitis. Avid golfers and tennis players are prone to this inflammation of the tendon, which can occur anytime that the connective tissue between the muscles and bones is overloaded or when there is a strength imbalance among the individual muscles in the shoulder girdle. The rotator cuff muscles, which attach to

When muscles are overused to the point of exhaustion, lactic acid builds up in their fibers. Once overloaded with lactic acid, muscle fibers form adhesions, more commonly known as knots. When a muscle becomes knotted, it no longer has all of its fibers working properly and will start to weaken. Once this begins, an injury such as a tear or sprain can occur. This process does not happen overnight. Knots form and get larger over time, and many people may not be aware of them until they become big enough to cause pain or inhibit movement.

How do we stay in the game and play pain-free? Massage therapy can be part of a very effective solution. Deep tissue massage accelerates recovery time from acute and chronic injuries. It can help improve range of motion and flexibility and strengthen muscles to prevent future injuries. Massage therapists use deeper pressure to break down knots and restore good blood flow, decreasing the pain and allowing muscle fibers to function properly. When the fibers work again, strength is restored.

One very effective advanced technique for releasing muscles and joints is Muscle Release Therapy, or MRTh, which was developed by licensed massage therapist Dennis Gibbons and recently accepted into the Association of Bodywork and Massage Professionals as a trademarked modality. While deep tissue massage forces out the knot and pushes blood into the area, MRTh will gently cause the muscle to open up on its own by unwinding the three-dimensional webbing, called fascia, that surrounds the muscle and holds the internal organs in place, running head-to-toe throughout the entire body. A strand of fascia runs through every muscle fiber, keeping it attached to the bone. When the fascia gets tangled, it squeezes the muscle and inhibits blood flow and movement. Athletes such as professional dancers, marathon runners and basketball players often receive MRTh treatments to improve their performance.

Most professional athletes regularly use massage to keep their muscles finely tuned, while the average massage client gets a massage only when experiencing discomfort or pain. Receiving massage regularly helps maintain muscle health and keeps even casual athletes feeling their best all summer long.

Rob Reader and Wendy Halfpap are licensed massage therapists with 13 years combined experience. Reader is the official massage therapist of the Milwaukee Ballet and founder/owner of Active Body Wellness, located at 10620 N. Port Washington Rd., in Mequon. Halfpap is trained in advanced craniosacral therapy. For more information, call 414-721-6942 or 414-839-7688, email [email protected] or visit