Massage therapy and training – how and when to apply

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I’m a part of the coaching staff for Upper Echelon Fitness.

At Upper Echelon Fitness I work with my associates to provide the highest quality coaching possible. I provide individual training plans to meet individual needs and to help riders meet their cycling and fitness goals. I believe it is important to develop a rider in ways that not only increase their performance on the bike, check but which also translate into a healthier lifestyle.  In addition to improving physical and mental fitness, seek I feel many riders can benefit from learning more about their in race decision making as well, more info providing in depth race strategy and tactics however possible. It is my goal to develop riders in all areas, so that a rider may discover their true potential as an athlete. I love watching the people I work with accomplish their goals.  I strive to provide the highest quality coaching and to provide as much support as possible for my riders.

I am also a Licensed Massage Therapist.  I focus on therapeutic deep tissue and structural integration as it pertains to injury recovery, sports performance and general health improvement through body work.  I love being able to make a difference in peoples lives for the better!  Working with my clients to recover from injuries, removing daily aches and pains and improving their health and comfort in their lives is one of most fulfilling aspects of my career and life!

In addition to individual coaching plans and massage therapy, I instruct several Classes at Upper Echelon through the year, ranging from indoor cross training, trainer classes, and skills classes.  In the summers, I do a race and bike handling skills course on Monday nights before the Monday night PIR race begins.  Fall, winters and early spring I typically hold indoor/outdoor training sessions which complement a riders training goals if they are looking to gain speed in the summer for racing or nice weather group rides and fun rides.  I am also available for presentations for teams or groups covering topics such as race tactics, training methods and plan design, bike fitting basics or goal setting around athletic performance.

For more information about coaching and other services we provide at Upper Echelon, make sure to visit our site!
Of all the tricks of the trade for recovery and sports performance increases, link
one of the most effective available is massage therapy.  I first discovered this as I was starting to really train and race on a national level.  With logging of thousands of miles and putting my legs to the test against pelotons full of professional racers, I began to turn to massage as a way to repair my legs and body after the intense training and racing I was putting it through, and  found incredible results from the addition of bodywork!

This discovery was what had turned me onto the idea of becoming a massage therapist.  Today I am happy to say that I am able to pass on the improved recovery and healing aspects to others that have so greatly helped me in the past.  But there is still a bit of a science in fine tuning when and where to add massage into your diet if you are an athlete, and the type of body work you receive will depend on your training and racing schedule some what.

Being an athlete, I would say there are basically 3 styles of massages that you will most likely be looking for from your session and there is an optimal time to receive each style:

1) A pre event tune up massage – this is one that is going to be somewhere between 48hrs to the day off your event.  The goal in this session is to generally relax tight muscles, boost blood flow and take away any pre-event nervousness or tension.   A couple of days before your big event is not the time for some major deep tissue massage work, extensive myofascial work, or anything else that is likely to have a big lasting effects on you.  This is for several reasons – it can take a couple of days for muscles to recover from a bodywork session, in terms of athletic performance, you may experience a decrease in peak performance during this time, just as you would if you did a very hard workout the day before a big event.  Deep bodywork is a great tool for a body recovering from injuries and training with athletes, but is best used a little further out from a big event or workout.  Make sure your massage is on the lighter side in terms of pressure and be sure that your therapist is aware of your upcoming event.

2) Recovery massage – this is typically done after an event.  Massage is a great tool to increase the bodies ability to recover from hard efforts.  Many teams and athletes will get massages in between stages of stage races, or after a big event(such as a marathon).  The session here should be similar to a pre event massage, with the main goals of the session to improve blood flow to the muscle and also emphasizing on relaxation.  It is typically ok to have a little deeper work right after an event than right before, so allowing your therapist to work deeper in this session is encouraged.

3) Deep tissue/focused work/injury recovery – Using a massage to really work out tension and adhesions in muscles from training, and recovering from injuries is a great way to improve performance.  The best time jump into more in depth work is after a hard block of training or racing, but during a rest week.  If it is not a rest week, be sure you keep fairly relaxed the rest of the day while keeping to an easier workout on the following day, allowing the bodywork to soak in and allow your body to get used to any new improved ranges of motion, body structures, posture or movement patterns.  Having more time spent in a superior physical state of being is important in its habit settings-allowing yourself to hold yourself in a better state for more time will more successfully build the long term habit of being in that position.  It is also important to let your muscles have some time to recover from the bodywork.  You may feel great after the session, but deep and intense work may leave a muscle group in a similar state as it is after a hard workout, so give it a chance to really recover from the session, and your body will thank you generously by maintaining a more comfortable superior state of being and improved athletic performance!

Hopefully this helps in determining the timing of your bodywork session if you are actively training and racing.  If you have any questions, comments or wish to schedule a therapeutic massage, please contact me!

 

Winter training – what to wear to make your training effective!

We all fantasize and dream of migrating down south in the winter to get warm miles, illness but unfortunately it is not a likely possibility for most of us in the northwest.  Just because we have less tan ideal weather, epilepsy does not mean that it has to be a terrible experience for training.  It may sound simple, healthful but the first step to having quality training in the winter is having the right gear.  With the right equipment, you may actually find yourself enjoying these winter rides!

Layers, breath-ability, and protection from the elements are the key factors when getting ready for a cold and wet ride.  On your skin, you will want something that wicks moisture well.  If it doesn’t you will quickly become soggy from your own perspiration.  Even if it is cold out, you are still likely to perspire and your skin needs something against it that will allow it to breath.

Upper body – A base layer is key, most cycling apparel companies have a variety of base layers out there to choose from, which one is up to you, but definitely a necessary item.

Over this people will wear their jersey.  Some people will choose a normal jersey and arm warmers when it is cool.  This is a great combo in the fall or spring, where you are likely to shed the arm warmers when it gets warmer out or on the next climb.  In the winter, when temperatures are not likely to raise, I prefer to go with a thermal long sleeve jersey.  It is a bit warmer in the cold and really makes the difference compared to a summer weight jersey.  Having a winter jersey is a great addition to your cycling wardrobe.  Living in Portland, my long sleeve thermal jerseys get as much use as my short sleeve ones.

On top of this, you will want something to break the wind.  There are several types to choose from.  You have wind breaker vests and jackets, thermal vests and jackets (typically similar to the wind breakers, but with an extra lining of material for more warmth.)  From my own experiences and those of friends and clients, I have found that in the winter months here, a thermal vest seems to be the best option.  The thinner wind breaker layers are great in early fall and later in the spring, but don’t have the warmth needed to keep you comfortable when it is colder and wet out.  Thermal jackets are good, but the sleeves often make it a bit too warm for many people I have worked with for our climate, but if you find yourself someone who tends to get colder on the bike, a thermal jacket is a good option.

Last but not least, is a rain jacket.  You will definitely want a good rain jacket, to be worn over any other layers(even the thermal jacket/vest) to act as a shell to keep the rain off you.  This is one thing you probably do not want to skimp out on, get a good one with good ventilation and materials that will offer good breathing on the jackets part.  Something that packs down easily is also a key component, so you can remove it and store it in a back pocket when it is not raining.  This can also work as a good shell for added wind protection when its not raining as well.

Head – a thermal cycling cap is key.  Keep your head warm and you will keep much warmer yourself!  Ear warmers are good, but something keeping your whole head warm this time of year is essential.

Hands – good thermal gloves are also very important.  This is not the time of year for light gloves, winter gloves are a must have in the cold and rain.  Many people will also use glove warmers in their gloves, or keep them in their pocket until their hands get cold mid ride, then put them in to help keep feeling in the digits until the ride is over.

Lower body –

Cycling tights are a must when it is chilly.   There are knee or leg warmers, which are both good options when it is cool out, but it is good to go with full length thermal cycling tights when it starts getting below 50 degrees, especially when it is raining.  Cycling tights are a must have for the winter months in Oregon and the pacific NW.  There are options that have tights built into cycling shorts, with a built in chamois, or you can get a pair of tights and wear them over(some people wear them under) your normal summer cycling tights.

Feet – there are a number of good shoe covers to choose from, as well as winter shoes on the market.  Likely, your feet will get wet at some point in the ride, but at least with good shoe covers you will at least keep warm even if water does sneak into your shoes.  There are a number that are made from neoprene, this is a warm option that offers the most protection from the elements, and probably the most common one you see out on the road this time of year.

Bike – Yes, your bike should be a consideration in preparing for the winter riding!  First off, you want to be sure you have good fenders on your bike.  Fenders are one of the most essential items in keeping warm and dry, as you will receive a lot of spray from your wheels without fenders on!  Front and rear, full fenders are the best and will keep you the most dry.  There are a number of companies that make full fenders that will fit on nearly any bike.  Also, adding a “buddy flap”, and extender on your fenders to make them longer, is a key thing in cycling etiquette on group rides.  It is key for helping to keep those around you dry.  Check in with your local shop for options on fenders!

Good tires – you may be wondering “How will good tires keep me warmer in winter training?”.  Well, good tires = less flats = less standing around on the side of the road fixing flats in the rain.  There is more road debris in the winter and also the water on the roads create increased likely hood of getting flat tires from glass or other objects as the water acts as a lubricant assisting sharp objects more easily cutting through the rubber of your tire.  If you have a good set of tires on it may save you a from a few flats, giving you an overall better experience in the winter, and you will not have to take off your gloves to fix the flat in the cold!

Safety – it can be good to wear bright colors and also to bring and use lights (even in fog or rain during the day) on your bike to help make sure you are seen and safe.  I always make sure to have a light on my bike in the winter, just in case I get caught in fog or out after dark.

Hope these tips help you to make the best of your winter training!