Massage Therapy for the CrossFit Athlete

CrossFit isn’t just a high-intensity, full-body workout. As anyone who’s been in the ‘box’ will tell you, CrossFit is a way of life. It’s about competition, and not only with others, but mainly with yourself. It’s about pushing your body, and your mind to the max and beyond, then doing it again, and again, and again, and again.

That constant pounding and pulling, pushing and twisting, bending and straining that we love so much takes its toll, and when we don’t step back and take care of ourselves, it can sometimes put us in the worst place in the world: on the bench.

Staying off the bench means more than just hitting your WODs and following the Paleo. Even the most advanced athletes need to think about post-workout body maintenance. To receive the most benefit from CrossFit, we need to be powered-on while training and our post-workout sessions should be quick, efficient and meaningful.

PAIN is a four-letter word we all know well, a staple of the trade. If you’re doing it right, most WODs will leave you feeling sore. But sometimes, the pain can knife its way in well above the normal burn. This is especially so if you’ve had an over-exertion or overload injury. There’s no better way to get out of the game and onto the bench than by ignoring it. Moreover, for stats junkies, a sore body will impact your performance and your results will suffer.

Massage can help you learn to manage the pain. In some cases, by relieving stiffness and tissue tension, regular massage can help remove the likelihood of debilitating strains and over-use injuries. For cases where an injury has already occurred, massage will help reduce swelling and inflammation in tendons, joints and nerves. Additionally, by triggering the release of endorphins into the bloodstream, a good massage will naturally cut pain, awarding you the levity to slowly work yourself back into gear.

CrossFit pushes us to drive ourselves hard, and often, it’s difficult to turn it off and unwind. With regular massage, athletes can learn to maintain a state of relaxation in between workouts, food for the body and the soul. This is especially true for people who are having difficulty recovering from workouts. In those cases, a deep tissue massage once a week can help you build and maintain a solid, deep-sleep cycle which will naturally support your recovery.

A common challenge experienced by CrossFit athletes relates to muscle tightness caused by the rapid cycles of intensive training we all know so well. To maximize spring, twist and reach, fascia and muscle fibers needs to be regularly stretched and separated from surrounding ligaments and tissues. A good sports massage therapist will help you ensure you attain maximum flexibility.

Perhaps the most important system is the one that spreads nourishment across your body and that speeds recovery like no other. A healthy circulatory system will enhance performance by minimizing recovery time between workouts. It will help eliminate toxins through improved blood and lymphatic circulation, and it will help to deliver nutrients and oxygen so important for growth and repair of tissues. Massage can improve your circulation by loosening tight muscles which constrict vessels. Moreover, the squeezing and pulling motion typical of massage fosters increased flow, which washes lactic acid away from your muscles, promoting good growth.

To minimize risk of injury and maximize performance, every CrossFitter should be on a regular plan with a professional sports massage therapist. When scheduling a massage, it’s not a good idea to have it immediately before a workout because your muscles will be too loose to sustain load. The best time for a regular massage is an hour after your WOD, on a rest day, or the day before and after a competition.

A good massage by a registered therapist can mean the difference between a win and a loss, and it can help eliminate body challenges that cause injuries. Massage can alleviate pain and improve your recovery time, and it can help you get a perfect sleep, a necessity for daily life. Every machine needs maintenance. Stay off the bench.

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