Sports Massage To Reduce Risk Of Ironman Training Injuries

Sports massage reveals muscle tightness.

FitOldDog has a sports massage to reduce risk of injury.

Tara gives FitOldDog a great sports massage, traded for dog walking. The massage finds tight spots; not necessarily comfortable, but always therapeutic and informative. Photo of Tara, with permission.

Muscle tightness is a symptom of weakness!

Advice to First Time Ironman Over 50 Athletes: Fix it before it becomes an injury!.

There are at least two kinds of massage, sports massage and ‘fluff and buff!’

Sports massage to fix potential training damage, fluff and buff to relax. Both are good.

FitOldDog with Simon, his local farmer. Sports massage and vegetables keep me going.

I do love Simon’s locally grown produce, to supplement vegetables from my garden. At the Tiny House.

My recent sports massage, from Tara, revealed an important issue. General weakness in my left leg. Tara recommended several Yoga poses to fix it. I will do the work diligently, to avoid future injury in a race, or during a hard Ironman workout. One thing that masters athletes must avoid is injury. Older people do take longer to recover, from workouts and injuries.

I’d completed the Tar Heel 10-Miler run, the day before.

I was running on Simon’s vegetables, due to my recently vegan state. My legs were really tight, especially my calves – probably due to the 0.9-mile climb up Laurel Hill, at the end of the race.

I was slow (13:07 pace), but content with the progress my tight hips are making. The bike wreck in 2013, at World Half Ironman Championships, did a number of me. Not just my aorta, but the pelvic subluxation, too.

I broke the primary rule of cycling – Keep the rubber side down.

Accidents happen!

Especially when you’re tired – it’s the calculated risk you take for effective training!

The real key to avoiding injuries is body awareness training. Sports massage is one approach to such awareness, another is Feldenkrais. Sometimes that awareness is so ingrained that you know something is wrong, but you don’t know what.

Here is a relevant story from my marathon training:

FitOldDog's body movement instructors. Body awareness training and sports massage keep me going.

FitOldDog learned a lot from his famous four, from left to right, Karen, Feldenkrais, Mr. Bones, Anatomy, Rebecca, Continuum, and Tara, Gyrokinesis.

This odd experience occurred in the fall of 2009, the year that I completed the Boston Marathon, in the spring. I had qualified for Boston, in the fall of 2008, at the Thunder Road Marathon, in Charlotte; recently renamed The Charlotte Marathon. I had a qualifying time of 4:07:59 (I was 66 – or was it 67?). I had the help of a great coach, Chris Hauth. I also had years of body awareness training under my belt.

After Boston, I decided to repeat Thunder Road, and attempt a sub-4-hour marathon. However, three months previously, I’d managed to strain my right psoas (hip flexor) muscle. I had overtrained on PowerCranks (2.5 hours), a wonderful training tool, and foolishly gone for a short run, off the bike – bam! I yanked that hip flexor. BAD!  However, by race time, several months later, it appeared to be fine.

So I set off, on ‘Thunder Road,’ with a solid race plan. I was now a Boston Marathoner – what could possibly go wrong? Perfect running weather, in the low 40s. Passing the half-marathon mark at 1:58, I smiled to myself, and started to gently pick up the pace. I had it in the bag. The problem is, as I found out at the Lake Placid Ironman, in 2010, it’s not in the bag until it’s in the bag.

FitOldDog in Boston Marathon 2009 shirt, using sports massage, body awareness training, and a great coach.

Body awareness training and a great coach, got me to Boston. A blast! I was sad when I lost that shirt. Fond memories.

THEN! At mile 17, something felt wrong. I had no pain. I didn’t know what it was. I just knew that I had better stop running, or something bad was going to happen. I was listening to my body. I stopped running, and proceeded to freeze (walking in the low 40s is cold!). Someone gave me a trash bag to wear, which helped a lot.

The next morning, my right psoas muscle was on fire. The thing I sensed that was about to go wrong was this hip flexor. If I hadn’t stopped running, I might well have torn it – no running for ages, or forever, after that, possibly.

The moral of this story: Sports massage can help, a lot. But your level of body awareness is critical for endurance training, and for staying fit and active into old age.

Knowing such things is an important aspect of Ironman coaching and Ironman Over 50 Mentorship.

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Wishing you happy trails.


PS Here is my home office in the Tiny House. Jonny did great work.

FitOldDog's Tiny House and home office, my business is alive due to sports massage and body awareness training.

FitOldDog’s tiny house, and home office, in his vegetable garden. Photo by Jonny (great builder – thanks, Jonny).


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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.