Rachel Richards

licensed massage therapist

east village, nyc

News: May 2012

Is your goal fitness or failure?

Getting in shape is great! Pushing yourself beyond your limits? Not so great. For example, I've seen several clients in the past who have decided to run a marathon. "When is the marathon?" I ask. "Next month," they answer. "And when did you start training?" "A few weeks ago." Uh-oh, a big red flag. "And are you working with a trainer?" I ask. "No, I'm just winging it on my own." Another bad sign. "And why do you want to run a marathon?" "To lose weight and get in shape." Those are admirable goals, but unfortunately, this is an injury waiting to happen.

Running a marathon isn't the ideal way to get in shape, because you should already be in shape before running in one. The first line of business before taking on any such challenge, is to get your body operating in peak condition. Then, and only then, is it appropriate to start training for a marathon. Otherwise, you can most likely say hello to ankle, knee, and hip injuries. Surprisingly, running is considered an advanced activity. Fitness expert Rachel Cosgrove explains, "If you hired me to train you and on day one, I said, 'We're going to do 1500 hops on one leg,' you'd think I was nuts. But that's exactly what you're doing when you head out for a run."

And what about working out? Many people like to push themselves, and that's good - that's how you build strength and flexibility. But pushing yourself beyond your limits is a good way to get injured. I know you feel like you're getting a great workout when you can force yourself to do those extra five bench presses, for example. But if fatigue has set in, you are no longer reaping the benefits of the exercise. Your performance has declined. Instead, you now have to make postural changes, such as arching your back, in order to complete the bench press. At this point, when your form is sloppy, you overstress the muscles and joints that have been recruited to compensate for the fatigue. Men's Health fitness advisor Bill Hartman calls this "technical failure." Once your posture changes or you can't perform an exercise in a full range of motion, you are done. Another sign to look for is when you start to lose control of the weight and slow down. So if you can't keep up the same pace with your pushups, weight lifts, or abs crunches, you are experiencing technical failure and should stop before you get hurt.

Even if you feel like you could do just a couple more reps, the moment you reach technical failure you have already achieved maximal benefits from the exercise. Hartman explains, "You'll get better overall results if you rest and add another set, than if you push past what you're capable of doing with good form."

"But I finished the marathon and I'm fine! Just a little tweak in the knee or ache in the hamstrings," you might argue. That's great, but you must consider not only the risk of immediate injury, but also of more long-term consequences. If you continue to exercise in this way, that little tweak or ache grows increasingly closer to becoming a more serious condition. The good news is such injuries are avoidable with safe and appropriate training, along with sports massage therapy (which happens to be my specialization!)

As long as you always make peak fitness your top priority, you can continue to run or do whatever activity you love for decades to come!

Source: Fox News Scariest fitness trends

How to do your own ice massage!

It can be beneficial to apply ice after vigorous activities that leave your muscles sore. Ice numbs the ache, reduces inflammation, and brings fresh blood and oxygen to the area to promote healing. You can stimulate and sooth the sore spot even further by applying ice massage.

Simply fill a small Dixie cup with water and leave it in the freezer. Once frozen, peel off the paper from the top of the cup so that some of the ice is exposed. Hold the bottom of the cup, and apply the ice to your skin, rapidly moving it around circles. Be careful never to hold the ice in one spot on your skin to avoid frostbite. Continue the ice massage for 1 to 2 minutes or until the area is numb.

What's new with me ...

May 31st is Jesse's and my 3-year anniversary! Time sure flies. June brings lots of birthdays - including mine :) - and hopefully lots of sunshine.

I'm looking forward to the semi-annual World Massage Conference this month, and learning about all the new developments, latest techniques, and current research in massage therapy. Let's hear it for science!

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