Movement, Soft Tissue Manipulation and Stretching for Recovery

Shame on me! Was January 22nd since I posted last?

Yeah, I guess so. Life has been good, and busy…good and busy. I have done some travelling for work and have worked with some clients and I have done some reading and research. My kids have been busy with their sports and school and well…being kids. Well I have been on the road my eight year old son even gave my wife a massage a couple of times. The five year old pitched in too, but he lost interest and went back to playing. Regular bodywork (insert manual therapy, soft tissue work etc. if you would like) is so important to good health. Even if you have to grab a 15 minute chair massage at the airport or 15 minutes with your beat up old foam roller at home it will pay dividends. Stress reduction, ease of movement, immune system stimulation, sleep enhancement and the list goes on.

If you are an athlete or serious exercise another key application of bodywork techniques are for preparation and recovery. The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) preaches the incorporation of self-myofascial release techniques into every warm up and every cool down. Let’s focus on the cool down importance of bodywork in the cool down or immediate recovery. We can discuss re-generation or longer term recovery another time. When practice, the game or a workout is complete make sure to utilize some sort of low intensity, repetitive and rhythmic movement for 5-10 minutes. I would actually urge you to ingest your recovery drink prior to doing so, or sip it when you are doing some “cardio”. The cardio or cool down movements will help to recycle lactic acid and flush other waste products and metabolites out of the blood stream. It will also lower body temperature and regulate heart rate and the nervous system.

After your recovery drink and cool down then it’s time to manipulate some tissue. You can  further move lymph and blood through the body and enhance recovery BUT I am more concerned with restoring tissue quality. Has the TFL or calve thickened up? Is the long head of the biceps brachii inflamed? Well, let’s do something about it. Stretching can help reestablish length, but let’s minimize any unwanted tissue density, or knots or restrictions first. A skilled manual therapist beats a $7.50 foam roll any day, but the roller (or any other tool) is not a bad choice.

Slow steady, exploration of the tissue will help you milk the tissue and identify areas of restriction. Once you have spent sufficient time doing so, go in and try and make some changes. You can use a trigger point style of therapy (find it, hold it and kill it) or you can take a more myofascial release approach and add some drag or pull with some torque provided by your body position. This will make it much easier to then lengthen the tissues with traditional stretching techniques and prevent the always nefarious and unwanted “relative flexibility”. A good deep stretch is only good it the joints are aligned correctly while the stretch is being performed. I promise to to go on a technique rant…I am sure you are all to used to that.

If you can have someone stretch you out, fantastic! If not good old fashioned static stretching will do. What should you stretch? I say what is “short”. No need to lengthen a muscle after the cardio and soft tissue work has already been applied during the cool down.

In case you are wondering…I have been performing a kneeling hip flexor stretch while I have been typing this post lol!

Thanks for reading and remember to cool down properly for heavens sake! Nutrition, Cardio, Soft Tissue Manipulation and Lengthening Techniques. Enjoy your corrective exercise!

Eric Beard
CEO A-Team
Corrective Exercise Specialist

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