Monthly Archives: October 2013

Good tips on benefits of massage for cyclist!

Massage is as integral to a professional cyclist’s daily routine as riding the bike is. What does massage do for a cyclist? First and foremost massage promotes recovery by flushing the toxins up to the heart so that new oxygenated blood can circulate. If you notice, the massage therapist will always rub the muscles upwards towards the heart. The massage is actually pushing out the muscle’s carbon dioxide rich blood to the lungs and heart which is then filtered to come out as oxygen rich blood that goes back into the muscles. The body will do this naturally but massage drastically speeds up the process. In addition to this, massage prevents injury with the help of stretching.

When To Get a Massage?

Everyone responds differently to massage but here is a guide to the routine that a pro cyclists would employ the week before a race:

Four days before the race he would have had very good deep tissue massage. This gives time to get over the legginess (heavy legs after a massage) that is typically experienced after a deep tissue treatment.

Two days before the race .He would have gone for a ~100km soft pedal ride. After he got back he would have had a nice gentle flush out massage. Traveling wears the legs out. You may be in limbo, but it’s not actually resting the legs. You can’t ever really putting the legs up and truly rest them. Proper resting is laying on the bed and having the legs up keeping all weight off.

The day before the race would not have had a deep tissue massage. He would have had a relaxation massage. Often many of the PROs come to the massage table just for some chit chat and motivation right before a big race. It’s part of their routine – just like riding is. Riders are emotionally very close to the masseur because they spend a lot of time with them. Along with the muscle therapy they provide, the masseur also is a great person to bounce some thoughts off and to talk things out.

Day of the race, no massage, and WIN!

How can everyday cyclists use massage to their benefit?

Each person is very individual with their massage needs. What is constant for most people is that you would want to avoid having a deep tissue massage within the coming days before a big race until your body is adapted to this. A deep tissue massage will feel like you’ve just lifted weights or gone for a massive ride in the following days after if you are not used to it. Expect about 2 days to recover. After you’ve recovered you’ll start feeling the benefits. Calves and the buttocks (the piriformis muscle – where Ron used his damn elbow and makes me scream) are most sensitive places for cyclists after massage. They are used in so many everyday movements so the soarness is amplified. If you insist on getting a massage the day before a race, make sure it is a light massage just to make those muscles supple.

Many of us cannot afford nor justify a massage whenever we feel like it, so when is the best time for a massage for us regular cyclists? The best time for a massage is the day after a block of hard riding. This falls on a Monday for most of us. This is after a hard weekend of riding and sets us up for the rest of our riding/training week. Again, expect to feel leggy until Wednesday or even Thursday, but by the time the weekend comes around (when most races and events are) you’ll be floating.

You’ll still reap the benefits of massage if you go once every two weeks. This will still allow the body to keep it’s adaptation to the deep tissue massage and will help enormously in your body’s recovery process.


Massage for Dancers

20131017-184651.jpg“Jilyn Tee is a Registered Ballet Teacher with the Royal Academy of Dance(UK). She is currently teaching ballet full-time at the Palais Dance Studio and several community centres under the People’s Association (Singapore).”

We all LOVE a massage, and as dancers, do we get sore muscles! But when and why should we enjoy a massage?

How does massage improve our health?

A massage improves your health by assisting in the elimination of toxins like lactic acid and it improves circulation to tissues within the body including the skin. It can elongate tight muscles, keeping joints ‘less stressed’ from being compressed by tight/short muscles (like those surrounding the knee for example).

A major benefit of massage is that it decreases the pain we feel in our muscles after training, rehearsals and performance through the dispersal of the lactic acid. A good massage therapist will also give specific stretches to target problem areas. Massage will increase the range of movement through your joints, speed up the recovery after hard training and increase energy flow.

Does massage help our immune systems?

Massage helps the immune system as it increases the number of white blood cells in the body. Research in Florida showed an increase in neutrophils (the most common type of white blood cells) after massage. We know that white blood cells protect the body by eating bacteria, for example, so yes, massage boosts the immune system!
It also helps the release of emotions and stimulates inner organs through nerve stimulation, as in Chinese acupuncture. Some masseurs use a similar system called Trigger Point Therapy, and some, like myself, use a combination to suit the individual body.

Can massage help in injury prevention?

Massage is considered to help prevent injuries by assisting the body to stay supple, de-stressed and in better shape. As there is less tension in highly used muscle groups they react better to the ‘stress’ of dancing.

Can massage speed up injury recovery?

Massage is often associated with injury recovery, depending on the type of injury. Always seek advice from a physical therapist first who can check whether there are hairline fractures or spinal alignment problems, a severe inflammation or contusion – bleeding after an injury to the muscle.

The physical therapist often recommends massage as treatment in recovery from injuries which produce swelling in muscles and joints. But it is important to have a good understanding of the injury before applying massage, because a deep massage to a freshly injured muscle will only increase the problem and damage the muscle fibre further.
Sometimes a dancer may use their ‘turn out’ muscles to such a degree that it prevents them from being able to ‘turn in’, limiting the range of motion in the hip. Recommended stretches and massage to correct the one sidedness of the training can help. (Always think of doing the opposite moves from the normal class movements. And please always stretch after training/rehearsal or performance as it will help prevent soreness the next day and keep your muscles supple).

When should dancers get a massage?

A dancer’s body is highly tuned and sensitive, and a deep massage with strong release techniques can make our body parts sore for a day, until we reap the benefits. It can also give us the feeling of being in a different alignment or ‘place’, so that lifting our leg up or doing a turn could feel completely different than before – we might feel ‘out of sorts’ or ‘out of tune’ so to speak. If that is the type of massage you need, please make sure you get one just before a rest day, but not on a performance day or even a day before as it can ‘throw’ you. However, shorter massages on local areas such as the calves or thighs, if you are getting cramps or lactic acid build up, are beneficial right there and then even during rehearsal/ performance.
There are special techniques I use with fellow dancers to gain quick recovery during a performance. There are stretches specifically designed for the dancer’s body, and other methods of targeting lactic acid build up which can be extremely helpful when applied at right moment.

How often should a full time dancer have a massage?

I would seriously recommend a dancer to have a decent massage at least once a month, if not every fortnight, depending on your schedule. A good massage once a month, before a rest day, will keep you free from problems building up over time.

Ronald Villegas works for osteopathic pain Relief Centre Singapore.

Parent Posture

imagesDid you know that new moms spend more time hunched over than the average computer programmer?  Ok, so I don’t have any hard data, but I challenge someone to say it isn’t true.

So what does all this bending over do to our bodies?  It causes something called Kyphosis.  Simply put, Kyphosis is a rounding forward of the upper spine and shoulders.  Essentially the chest muscles get to tight and the back muscles get to weak.  This is often paired with tight anterior (front) shoulder muscles and weak posterior (back) shoulder muscles.

Aside from being less than flattering, hunched posture can lead to headaches, neck pain and back discomfort.  Your spine goes from the base of your skull to your tail bone so anything attached to it along the way is fair game.

So what do we do about it?  We balance it out.  We need to strengthen our back and posterior shoulder muscles and stretch our chest and anterior shoulder muscles.  Add in some good postural habits throughout the day and your set.


1. Scapular Retraction

You can do this seated or standing.  You can even do it while holding your baby if you have to. Engage your core muscles and stand tall.  Take a deep breath in.  As you exhale squeeze your shoulder blades together.  Repeat 10-15 times.

2. Reverse Fly

This is easiest to do standing.  Holding two 5 lb dumbbells, bend 90 degrees at the hips.  keep your knees soft. Look at the ground to keep your neck safe.  Inhale.  On the exhale, open your arms at the shoulder joint like you are flying.  Don’t worry about how high you go.  Just make sure your posterior shoulder muscles are doing the work.  Repeat 10-15 times.


1. T-Stretch

Sit or stand tall  Open your arms out like you are a letter T.  Engage your core.  Hold for 5 breath cycles.

2. Hand cuff

Sit or stand tall.  Lace your fingers together behind your back.  Your hands will be on your buttock.  Gently open your push your arms back until you feel a nice stretch across your chest and shoulders.

Good Habits

1. Stroller Smarts

Keep your stroller close to your body and stand tall.  Don’t hunch over your stroller or let your bum lag behind.  Use shop windows as a handy mirror for watching your posture.

2. Core Contraction

As you go about your day, remember to engage your deep core muscles.  Begin by lifting your pelvic floor muscles (aka Kegels) and then drawing your navel into your spine.  Don’t forget to breathe.

3. Get a Massage

Sports Massage – Boxing


For the first time since boxing was introduced in 1904 womenare competing in the Olympic Games in 2012. Both men’s and women’s events will have different weight categories. Men’s consist of 10 ranging from light FlyWeight (46-49 kg) to Super Heavy Weight (over 91 kg), the women’s have 3: FlyWeight (48-51 kg), Light Weight (57-60 kg) and Middle Weight (69-75 kg). The duration of the women’s and men’sbouts last 2 to 3 minutes long over 3 to 4 rounds respectively.  Each event is run in a knockout format.

Boxing is still considered to be an extreme sport but certainly not as extreme as in Ancient Roman times wherein they used studded gloves and usually fought until it ended in death. When boxing first originated at the Olympic Games in the 7th century BC, opponents fought with strips of leather wrapped around their fists, this made for a much harder impact on thebody than what is now used with a padded gloved hand. Even with the introduction of protective hand and headgear in amateur boxing, the sport has seen serious injury some of which have been lethal.

Boxing injuries can be divided into two different categories, acute trauma and those resulting from chronic repetitive microtrauma.  The majority of boxing injuries are the result of blows to the head which can result in the nerves in the brain being torn, blood clots forming or incurring a cumulative effect known as ‘punch drunk syndrome’ which can come on long after they have retired.  It is also known that boxers are more likely to suffer from Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s Disease. Boxers still suffer with similar conditions as in other sports such as musclestrains, tendonitis and joint strains due to the repetitive nature and the demands placed on the body.  When rehabilitating injuries in the acute stage the intention is to reduce acute inflammation and encourage tissue healing.  In the chronic, early and late sub-acute phase of injury soft tissue work is more appropriate.

The preceding case history is an actual client. Hispresentation is common wherein you are dealing with both the physical and psychological elements of rehabilitation.

Case History

A young talented boxer presented with persistent left shoulder pain. Despite making changes to his training and including stretches within his routine, the achy, niggling discomfort would not shift.  Frequently it would wake him up atnight and it never completely went away during the day.  It was affecting his training andinterfering with his expected progression. His past general history consistedof injuries that are typical in boxing, such as broken bones, contusions, cuts and muscle strains.

He acquired this particular injury 6 months prior, justafter he had been signed up to start his professional career. At the time he was very excited about the prospect of his future moving onto a new level andwas feeling on top of the world. Hence he did something out of character and sparred with a partner who was a more seasoned boxer in a heavier weightcategory. During the session he received a significant blow to the ribs on the left side. He discounted the severity of the injury yet he stopped the fight soon afterwards due to his inability to breath because of the pain.  He did not go to the hospital immediately but continued to train in the weeks and months following working through the pain. Understandably he protected the area and consequently his posture and movement changed to reflect this. He played down his difficulties as he had just been signed up and did not want to lose his chances of a career inboxing.  As his progression was slower than expected, and it was becoming evident that he was not moving correctly or as aggressively as he had in the past, his coach insisted he havean x-ray.  It showed a poorlyhealed fracture on the 3rd & 4th ribs anteriorly.  He then had a series of rehabilitation sessions to returnhim back to form.  After 6 weeks of rehabilitation he was discharged. Although it had improved his range of movement he was still hindered bya dull achy sensation at the top back area of his shoulder.  It was for this that he originally came to see Clinical Massage Therapist.

Taking in to consideration his past history of injuries, and after completing a thorough assessment of his range of movement in his shoulder,back and ribs, I felt it was appropriate to start work in the front close tothe fracture rather than focusing on the area of discomfort at the back. It was clearly evident that there was scar tissue present and the ribs were no longerevenly spaced and moving as intended. Also his shoulder joint was not as stable as it should have been partlydue to his protective posture he had assumed.  His serratus anterior had atrophied, and his scapula wastherefore not gliding over the ribs properly which led to a decrease of powerin that arm.

Over a series of treatment sessions a successful outcome was achieved by using a combination of friction, soft tissue release, mobilitytechniques such as compression, vibration and rocking along with rhythmic breathing.This resulted in realigning the ribs, opening up the intercostal spaces allowing a greater freedom of movement. He was then able to breath easier and felt more at ease. Thus it removed the protective posture he had been assuming and his training reverted back to where it should have progressed months ago.The use of Muscle Energy Techniques also helped to re-establish proprioception into the muscles that had lost their power and strength.

The young athlete had not linked up the fracture to his shoulderpain as the fracture was anterior and the pain was posterior near the thoracic spine. By explaining the relationship between the fracture and how it affected his movement he began to understand the link between the body as a wholeinstead of looking at it in sections. Thus his workouts took on a new perspective as he began to relate thesame principle to his training sessions.

It is important to understand the psychology of an injured athlete and how this will affect whether they seek treatment or not.  In this particular instance he was very resistant in admitting he needed help simply because he was so very nervous about appearing to be “weak” and lose out on a chance of a lifetime. In Boxing, as in a great many sports, the appearance of weakness is not an option.  It can be a challenge to work within asport that requires such a powerful and supreme presence.  Therefore the carrot on the stick is through educating your clients to understand the effects of massage, how it can help in the recovery and prevention of injury, thereby they will be able to reach their optimum training goals without interruption.  This will encourage them to trust you about their soft tissue concerns making for a more relevant treatment and successful outcome.


Eleven years ago there was a study done on the effects of massage on the physiological restoration and the perceived recovery and sportsperformance of boxers (B. Hemmings, M. Smith, J. Graydon and R. Dyson).  It’s aim was to investigate the effects of massage of the boxers perceived recovery, blood lactate removal and the effects on their repeated boxing performance.

They had eight amateur boxers complete two simulated boxing matches.  Their heart rates, bloodlactate and glucose levels were taken before the first round.  Between the two fights one group off our boxers received a massage by a professional therapist and the other fourwere asked to rest for the same period of 20 minutes. After the massage treatmentor rest period and before starting the second round, the same tests were taken again.  At this time the boxerswere asked to evaluate their perceived recovery ratings.  When the second round was complete, alltests were taken again.

The massage group did not perform any better in the secondround than did the passive rest intervention group.  There was also no difference in the blood lactate or glucoselevels in the groups, which would indicate that massage does not necessarily help an athlete to recover any faster in short term. Although the massage group did not perform at any higher standards than the passive rest group, the massage group did report a significantly higher increased perception of recovery than the passive rest group. Even in conventional medicine, the perceived effectiveness of a treatment has a significant role to play inachieving a positive outcome.

This short study highlights the need for more research to bedone in our profession.  Most of the work I do and the results I have seen have been the result of regularsessions over a longer period of time, but I have also seen some significantchanges after just one session. As a Clinical Massage therapist (I usually refer to myself as a soft tissue specialist) I have an extensive “bag of tricks” that Iuse. I do not rely on one method but in order to achieve the most effective outcome I adjust my approach according to the needs of my client.  Research needs to be done on such areas as to look at the effects massage has on the prevention of injuries, pain control, soft tissue rehabilitation, to but name a few, as well as the long and short term effects of soft tissue work.

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