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15 NOVEMBER 2018


Therapeutic massage can benefit boxers and martial artists

By Thomas L. Cramer, P.M.T. & certified personal fitness trainer: Most every boxer or martial artist will "over do it" when they are training to learn their sport. By pushing himself or herself too hard while in the gym or while doing their roadwork, or when they are sparring.

The individual may do it on purpose or by simply not paying attention to the warning signs given off by their bodies. Rest assured they would know it when it happens.

When you realize that you have overworked yourself, the first tendency is to go home and lie down to rest. That is the simplest but not the most effective way to recover from a workout. Most serious boxers and martial artists require from themselves the ability to recover more quickly from strenuous workouts.

If you have hit the heavy bad too long, or ran an extra mile that you shouldn't have, or if you worked out with resistance equipment too many days in a row or with improper technique, you will undoubtedly feel some of the symptoms of hard effort and over use.

These symptoms would include muscle soreness, whether it is the delayed onset type of soreness or soreness that occurs during your workouts. Muscle and/or joint pain, muscle fatigue and muscle spasms may occur. Joint mobility may decrease leading to a loss of range of motion. To combat these warning signs and symptoms the boxer or martial artist must incorporate R.I.C.E. into their workout regimen.

If you do not want to "hit the wall" pertaining to your training efforts and progression, you must allow for sufficient rest periods in between your workouts. The R in R.I.C.E stands for rest.

Your muscle fibers pay a price each time you exercise. The muscle fibers are microscopically damaged when you work out. Whether it is the soreness you feel in your shoulders when you use the speed bag or the soreness you feel in your quadriceps and hamstrings when you are doing squat type exercises.

During your rest periods your body repairs and rebuilds the muscle fibers. Your range of motion should return to normal or show some signs of improvement due to the muscles now allowing greater joint mobility. If the proper amount of time in the resting state is not allowed, your workouts will pay the price and so will you. Fatigue can cause boredom which can be followed by doubting your abilities, which can lead to "hitting the wall" or burnout.

Massage can be incorporated as a tool in the rest phase of treatment by doing the following. Be sure to allow enough time for cool-down after your workout and before having a massage. It is my opinion that a post-event massage session should last between 30-45 minutes for a full body flush session or 15-20 minutes on the part of the body that is requiring the most attention.

The major strokes that I use during post-event massage sessions are petrissage, effleurage and possibly strain-counter strain techniques. Light compression and light and gentle stretching as well as some jostling and light and gentle vibration can be used in post-event massage sessions.

Be aware that a post-event massage session is a calming of the body type session. It is directly opposite of a session that uses heavy or deep strokes and incorporates fast paced movements. These movements would excite the nervous system and are performed in preparation for an event or competition.

When part of your body becomes inflamed for whatever reason, blood circulation to that area is increased. The temperature of that local area increases. This is where the I in R.I.C.E. comes into play. The I stands for ice.

Ice will first constrict the local blood vessels and ice will decrease the tissue temperature of the inflamed area. That is the reason you see medical personnel and athletic trainers and other trained and capable people placing ice on an injured person.

In the beginning ice is used as part of first aid treatment and later in the continuing phases of treatment of injured areas or chronic problem areas of the body. Ice massage is very simple, direct and inexpensive way to prevent swelling, reduce muscle pain and soreness in the problem area of the body.

To perform ice massage, simply freeze water in a Styrofoam cup. Then tear away the edges while holding onto the cup. Using the open end of the cup where the ice is exposed, begin massaging the target area using gentle circular motions. Peel away more of the edges of the cup as the ice melts. Massage the problem area for 5-10 minutes. The target area will begin to feel numb. Do not spend more time then is stated on the target area because that could result in localized frostbite.

Ice massage does decrease swelling, decreases tissue damage, decreases inflammation and decreases muscle pain and muscle spasms. So the next time you as a boxer or martial artist have over worked your jab, or have practiced your back spinning heel kick until fatigue has set in, be sure to do your body a favor and use ice massage as a way of fighting inflammation and soreness.

The C in R.I.C.E. stands for compression. No, not the compression that happens when you strike a scoring blow to your opponent's nose. This compression means bandage wraps or direct manual pressure to that area. Ice massage is also a form of compression. When using compression methods, circulation is improved; pain in the shoulder, neck, back and legs can be relieved. Deep relaxation can be induced and muscular spasms can be relieved. And mildly high blood pressure can be temporarily reduced. Also constrictions and adhesions can be reduced or prevented as the injured muscle tissue heals.

The E in R.I.C.E. stands for elevation. Elevation is simply the act of using gravity to work against the flow of blood to an area. Let's say your elbow is inflamed due to your spending too much time hitting a heavy bag, or golfing when you should have been working! Or your knee hurts because you extended a kick to where your opponent was. But your opponent wasn't there when your foot got there and you hyper-extended your knee.

What you would need to do as one of the forms of treatment is to elevate that body part. Elevation is recommended for most any body part, after working out as soon as possible after a workout. Always try to elevate the body part in need so that it is higher than the level of your heart.

One of the best descriptions I found during my schooling for massage therapy as to when a person is most likely to suffer muscle soreness comes from "Take Care! Your Center for Natural Health 238 East 5th Ave. Tallahassee, Florida 32303". It states: "Muscle soreness is most likely to occur when you perform an activity beyond what your body is accustomed to, when you repetitively use the same muscles for extended periods, when you activity is jerky or bouncy or when you activity includes eccentric contractions."

It is my opinion that description fits boxers and martial artists to the max. It is also my opinion that any boxer and martial artist, as well as other athletes and people who work at jobs to support themselves and their families, can benefit from therapeutic massage. Competitors in sports as well as everyday workers need to follow some simple steps. Listen to what your body is saying to you. Your body by far is the best computer known to man. Listen to it and you will be able to measure your levels of effort, response, stresses and progression. If you don't listen to your body and heed its warning signals, you are sure to suffer the consequences.

Start any workout slowly and proceed in the same manner. Don't get into weight tripping. Be aware of when to back off to avoid any over use injuries. Always give yourself time to recover from your workouts. If an injury occurs, always ere on giving more time for recovery and do not get back into the routine too soon.

Be sure to seek a physician's approval before starting any kind of exercise regimen or participation in any sport. Especially if you are seeking to participate in any contact sport. Hopefully by now you are asking yourself how do you find a massage therapist? To locate a therapeutic massage therapist you may ask your physician, sports medicine professionals, friends and relatives. Check on the Internet for accredited schools in your area who offer courses in therapeutic massage therapy.

Be sure to ask your therapist about the training and schooling he or she has completed. Ask them about any certification and/or licensing the therapist may have. Not all States require licensing of massage therapists. Not holding a State-verified license for massage therapy in itself is not a reason to disqualify a potential therapist with accredited schooling to their credit. Ask about the therapist's fees and also ask the therapist for references. Discuss all of your concerns with the therapist before having a session. You must feel comfortable with the therapist and there must be a mutual trust between the two parties.

There are many schools that offer programs made up of at least 500 hours of training. I went to business and computer school, which offered a course in therapeutic massage. I entered that school in 1996 to compliment my knowledge of personal fitness training. I have been certified through the American Council on Exercise since 1992. Now I do almost entirely massage therapy and I enjoy it immensely.

So do your homework and listen to your body when you are doing the activity you love the most. And remember, therapeutic massage nowadays is not your "Grand Pappy's rubdown".

** Mr. Cramer has a background which includes being a diplomaed Massage Therapist from the Academy of Medical Arts and Business of Harrisburg, Pa. Worked his internship with the Harrisburg Heat Indoor Soccer team and was their Team Massage Therapist from 1996-1999. This team is no longer in existence.

**Mr. Cramer has been a certified Personal Fitness trainer since Nov. 1992. Mr. Cramer has experience as an Inspector for the Pa. State Athletic Commission from June 1993 to May of 2000. From April 1999 to May 2000 Mr. Cramer also worked as an Administrative Officer for the Pa. State Athletic Commission. And Mr. Cramer has acted in past years as a Clerk and Judge for the Mid-Atlantic region of USA Boxing. Mr. Cramer also has taken Karate instruction in past years. Chinese Kenpo was the main style of Karate that was learned.

**All readers are strongly cautioned that the information contained herein is not intended to, and never should, substitute for the necessity of seeking the advice of a qualified medical, legal, or financial professional whenever a boxer/martial artist or his/her representatives have specific questions regarding the best course of action that a boxer/martial artist should take. All readers are advised that the information herein is intended solely as a general reference source, and to the fullest extent permitted by law, the information is provided "AS IS" without any warranties of any kind, whether express or implied, including without limitation, warranties merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose and non-infringement. No one may rely on the accuracy, integrity, quality or completeness of the general information herein. Accordingly, neither the author, editor nor anyone else affiliated with this website may be held liable for damages of any kind whatsoever allegedly caused or resulting from any such claimed reliance.

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