Author: Leo DiLorenzo

Licensed Massage Practitioner, Seattle Athletic Club Downtown

Managing Stress with Air Travel

We all have stress in our lives, and those who travel with work – especially those on airplanes – can deal with it even more.  Planes, airports, and unfamiliar hotel beds can get the body out of balance, and upset our sleeping rhythms. And there is nothing natural or healthy about changing time zones, or trying to nap on planes or in airports.  What are ways to manage stress when out of town, or just returning home?

Just thirty minutes of exercise can do wonders for our physical and mental health, especially when we are out of our regular routine. A run, walk, swim, yoga class, or any type of workout can help keep us relaxed and balanced. With our lives turned upside down, these activities can keep us grounded and keep the body in something of a routine. Just that half hour of activity can help manage anxiety and stress.
Another way to get ourselves back in balance is to get a massage. Having a session after returning home can calm the body down and make it easier to sleep. The neck, shoulders, and back in particular can hold tension from travel, and having a professional massage can be exactly what’s needed to get back into the routine. An hour on the massage table can help relieve muscle imbalances and tightness in those problem areas, and leave you feeling both relaxed and rejuvenated. Book an appointment after traveling-it may be exactly what you need. There are licensed therapists at the club every day of the week. They are all skilled and have a ton of experience. Try a massage after traveling and you will be happy that you did.

Runners, Cyclists, and Athletes – Tight hip flexors? Low back pain?

The combination of certain activities – especially running, hiking and cycling – followed by sitting for long periods of time, can contribute to tension in the front of the hip, and pain in the low back. Have you had a day of activity, followed by a long drive home? Or had a great run or ride, maybe an intense spin class, then sat for hours at the desk? The hip flexors are in a shortened position while sitting, tighten, and then the nagging pain in the low back will often follow. Those muscles in the crease of your hip can actually get so tight, that they stop other neighboring muscles from working. The deep glutes can stop activating when walking. If this pattern continues, not only can your bottom become flat and flabby – AND WHO WANTS THAT – but back pain or discomfort generally follow. Our posture, while standing or walking will change. The top of the hip bones are pulled forward, which increases the curve of the lower back.

What will help, when this imbalance occurs? One stretch that is particularly helpful is a lunge, with the back knee down, sometimes know as the “lizard pose”. Ask one of our massage therapists, trainers or instructors to help you with this. Something else to try is to lay face down on a mat, with a lacrosse ball underneath you, positioned on the front and side of the hip. This can be a little intense, or uncomfortable at first, but if you are consistent, and try it for a few minutes every day, the hip flexors will loosen.

The best solution of all is to get a therapeutic massage session. There are a couple of assisted stretches that will target the front and side of the hip, as well as deep tissue and fascial techniques, that will really make a difference.

Try all three – stretching, self-care with the lacrosse “torture” ball, and a professional massage. Why live with that nagging pain? With some focused effort, one can really make some changes, and start moving freely again. Thank you for reading this,

Leo DiLorenzo
Licensed Massage Therapist
Seattle Athletic Club

Sitting too long? Feeling tight and sore?

Most of us, whether at the computer, behind the wheel, hunched over our bicycle or in front of the TV, are spending many hours sitting. And that seems to be what we do in our culture – sit. Because of this, certain muscles are in a shortened position, the body gets out of balance, and we feel achy, stiff and cranky. The hamstrings and hip flexors become tight. And the front of the shoulders and chest have been locked in a forward position, and we start to assume a hunched-over posture. Not good – not healthy! The pain is often felt in the low back, hips and the shoulders, among other places.

What can we do about this? A few self-care stretches and postures can really help:

  1. Lie on your back and wrap a towel or strap around the foot. With the knee straight or slightly bent, pull the leg toward you, stretching the hamstrings. Switch sides. Hold each gentle stretch for 30 seconds and repeat a few times.
  2. In a lunge position, with the back knee on the floor (or a mat), lean forward to stretch the front of the hip. Again, hold and switch sides.
  3. If you’re at the gym, or have access to a large therapy ball, drape yourself over the ball – face up – and let the weight of the arms and legs open the body. Gently rock back and forth. Reach the arms out and then up, breathe, and let the chest and shoulders stretch.
  4. Bend forward, keeping the feet apart and knees straight. Lace the fingers together behind you and extend the arms over your back and head as far as possible. Without changing this position, lift your head back in opposition. Hold for 20 seconds, then bend the knees and slowly come back to an upright position.

Being consistent with these self-care stretches and postures will really help with aches and pains due to sitting for too many hours. Ask our massage therapists or personal trainers for help with this, and for other ideas. There is a great hand-out that we can give you called “Computer Posture Exercises”.

And, of coarse, book an hour massage! You’ll be glad you did. Along with you’re routine at the office, home or gym, a professional massage will give you relief and help reinforce the work you are doing on your own. We can help releasing the hamstrings, hip flexors, chest and shoulders. This will get the body back in balance.

Yes, we do spend a lot of time sitting, but with some consistent self-care and a good massage session, we will feel relaxed and healthy again. Thanks for reading this, and feel free to ask one of us for help.

Sports Massage for Runners

Sports massage combines techniques including deep tissue, Swedish and therapeutic massage. It reduces muscle and joint tension in the legs, hips feet as well as shoulders and neck- the entire body. Sports massage is a way to flush out the lactic acid that’s produced when we run or repeatedly use our muscles. This waste can build up and cause soreness as time goes by. Removing it speeds up recovery and increases flexibility, and that can improve our performance and just make us move relaxed and happy. Sports massage can be a very effective treatment, along with strength training, stretching and nutrition, for runners with aches and pains.

A runner’s world article on sports massage from August 2004 gives examples of athletes who benefit from this treatment. A 49 year old was training for her 49th marathon, which would put her on target to reach 50 marathons by the age 50. “If it weren’t for massage, I wouldn’t be able to do this.” Says Loretta Ulibarri, a runner form Denver. “I’ve had a lot of inflammation problems and ongoing soreness that interfered with my training. Ten years ago, I started getting a sports massage every 3 weeks, and since then, I’ve been injury-free and able to train year round.”

Dave Deigan is a runner from Sonoma, California who puts in 25 miles a week, and gets massage every other Thursday. “Since I Started getting massages 5 years ago, the chronic tightness in my calves has disappeared, and I’m not getting injured.” This has support in the medical community, as well. Lewis G. says “as far as injuries go, massage is the icing on the cake. Massage can supplement physical therapy as an effective injury treatment.”

When should on get massage? Therapists often recommend a weekly or bi weekly session, but every athlete is different. For some, once a month or six weeks is sufficient. When the legs feel tired or heavy or if there is inflammation, it is time to see a massage therapist. After a hard work out or a race, schedule an appointment 24-36 hours later. An ice bath soon after resting for a day or two, your body will be more then ready for a sports massage.

If you have any questions about massage for runners, ask any of the therapists at the Seattle Athletic Club, And weather you need a maintenance session, a post-race massage or injury treatment, we are available to help.