The Role of Sports Massage

deep tissue sports massageThe purpose of Sports Massage is not well understood and its use would most likely increase with a greater understanding of how how exercise impacts our muscles.

After hard training or an athletic event, taxed muscles become constricted and shortened. Micro-tearing of muscle fibers also results from extended strenuous activity leading to swelling and adhesions (like strands of spaghetti stuck together). Without proper rest and stretching between exercise, muscles become increasingly fatigued and contracted. Constrictions prevent free muscle movement and literally destroy range of motion.

During massage, circulation is stimulated and muscle tissue is stretched helping muscles recover faster and more completely. Sports massage focuses on the muscle groups most used by the athlete and incorporates stretches to maintain muscle elasticity. Over the long-term, sports massage helps athletes sustain higher levels of performance and remain free of injuries.

Rest Period

There should be a period of rest after hard training to allow muscle recovery to take place. Depending on the intensity of the physical activity, the rest period can be anywhere from a day to several weeks.   By stimulating circulation and the lymphatic system, sports massage coupled with appropriate low-level activity increases the quality and effectiveness of the rest period. Some refer to it as ‘turbo-charging.’

Warm-up and Warm-down

Neglecting to warm-up can result in injury because cold muscles are less elastic and more vulnerable to damage. A proper warm-down with ample stretches helps start the muscle recovery process, re-aligning muscle fibers and preventing tightness.

Age Factor

As we get older, our muscles become more prone to damage due to wear and tear, so stretching and proper warm-up and warm-down become more important. Since it takes muscles longer to recover as we age, a longer rest period and more regular massage is beneficial.

Pre-Event Sports Massage

Pre-event sports massage can take place from two days to two minutes before a race. Two days before, sports massage can be thorough and deep to ensure you are in optimum condition and fully recovered from any previous exercise. Shortly before an event, sports massage uses passive stretches and muscle warming techniques for maximum muscle elasticity. Some also choose to get massage the day of an athletic event with the goal of either relaxing their nerves or “firing-up” for the competition, depending on the athlete’s particular needs.

Post-Event Sports Massage

If you are like many, you may be skipping the warm-down after an athletic event, whether due to exhaustion, elation or forgetfulness. Whatever the reason, sports massage can be a reasonable substitute for a warm-down since it stretches muscle fibers and helps effectively remove metabolic waste (through increased circulation). If there is an injury, cold therapy and cross-fiber massage techniques can be used to reduce swelling and remove muscle adhesions.

In summary, sports massage helps active individuals maintain flexible, rested and healthy muscle tissue helping to improve athletic performance. If you consistently suffer from stiffness or muscle fatigue after athletic activity, consider adding sports massage to your overall routine.

By Larisa Goldin, MBA, LMP

The Long-Term Health Benefits of Meditation

The Long-Term Health Benefits of Meditation, original blog by Dreamclinic Massage and Acupuncture Seattle, Redmond, BellevueThere are some weeks when we barely have time to go to the grocery store, let alone relax and enjoy ourselves. With our hectic lives, it seems like those nagging thoughts of to-do lists, and responsibilities creep in even during the calmest times.

So, why are we letting these pesky thoughts ruin the time we do have for relaxation? They’re our thoughts, in our brains, and we should be able to control them. As nice as that sounds, sometimes we need help calming our brain.

Meditation is a powerful first step in reducing stress and finding the peaceful space between our thoughts. Humans have been using this natural practice for more than 3,500 years, and it is a simple, effective way to improve concentration, decrease anxiety, and improve your mood, all by learning how to be an observer of our thoughts first and then learning how to let them go.

Not only does meditation prevent stress in and out of the meditative state, it also has some important long-term health benefits:

Brain changes in attention, memory, learning, and perception. A study done on Buddhist monks showed that these effects last for many years after habitual meditation. These monks also had more brain activity in areas responsible for positive emotions like happiness and relaxation.

A stronger immune system. Studies have shown that those who meditate will produce more antibodies at a faster rate than those who do not meditate. A healthy, peaceful mind reflects on the body.

Milder symptoms of PMS and lower infertility rates. Meditation has been known to help women alleviate uncomfortable symptoms of PMS, hot flashes, and breast-feeding. In addition, after a ten-week meditation program, women struggling with infertility problems exhibited lower anxiety and fatigue than they did before the program, and within the next six months, 34% of those women became pregnant.

Better sleep. Good sleep is essential for peace of mind, and sleep deprivation often goes hand in hand with anxiety and depression. In a study done by the American Journal of Medicine, 100% of the insomnia patients reported that their sleep had improved after practicing meditation. Of those patients, 91% completely eliminated or significantly reduced their use of sleeping pills after the meditation course.

Improved alertness at the office. By eliminating anxious thoughts, meditation enhances other positive aspects of the brain like creativity, intelligence development, and relationship skills. All of these qualities are helpful for the workplace, and can help enhance your best qualities.

If you want to improve your quality of life today, and for the next five to ten years, there is no simpler solution than meditation. Even meditating five minutes every day will reduce stress and improve long-term cognitive function. And, a week when you don’t have time to go to the grocery store won’t seem so bad after all.



5 Benefits of Using a Foam Roller

5 Benefits of Using a Foam Roller, original blog content by Dreamclinic Massage and Acupuncture Seattle, Redmond, BellevueDespite their appearance, foam rollers are not instruments of torture. Some of their scary-looking spikes may not look very inviting, but they are actually an essential part of a healthy, active lifestyle.

So, what is a foam roller exactly? They come in all shapes and sizes, and work to release knots in your muscles. Larger, cylindrical foam rollers are for the legs, hip, and back muscles. Smaller rollers are handheld and are specifically designed for calf and arm muscles. It’s best to roll out an hour or two after a workout, when your muscles are still sore from the activity, but are not inflamed.

Here’s how to use the two most common kinds of foam rollers:

Foam rollers: If you’re using a large roller, lay it on the floor and gently put your leg or hip on top of the roller. Slowly add pressure, rolling back and forth across the muscle to check for tight or tender spots. When you get to a knot in your muscle, it will be especially tender. Press your weight on that spot for 30-50 seconds. When you get to the end of your muscle, slightly release pressure. This process should be painful, but not unbearable. If the pain becomes sharp or intense, stop rolling, and contact a doctor if the pain continues.

Spiky foam rollers: These rollers are for deep tissue massages and are used the same way as normal foam rollers. They work out knots deep within your tissue fibers, and can be especially painful for rolling newbies. Do not start rolling with these!

Although the process of foam rolling may feel uncomfortable, you’ll feel great the next day. Rolling drastically releases muscle soreness and keeps your body limber and healthy. Here are five other benefits of foam rolling:

  1. When you are especially active, the soft tissue that connects your muscles (called fascia) can become inflamed and thicken. Rollers release that built-up muscle tension, keeping you muscles flexible and healthy.
  2. Rolling is one of the best ways to heal nagging injuries. Rolling breaks up scar tissue, which can form in hard knots and prevent your muscles from working properly.
  3. The results feel amazing! You will feel a big, relaxing release and extra sensation in the ends of your muscles as you roll them out and break up thick, chunky knots.
  4. It keeps you in check with your body. By rolling your muscles, you’ll learn more about your body, like where your pressure points are and which parts of your muscles are prone to tightness and possible injury. This self-awareness is the best form of injury prevention.
  5. It’s cheap and small. A trip to the doctor or a sports massage therapist can be costly, but you can buy a foam roller for $15 or less. Rollers are small and can be easily tucked against a cabinet for storage.

Foam rolling is the perfect complement to a healthy, active lifestyle. It soothes tight muscles, increases circulation, and reduces soreness after a workout. If you’re new to rolling, try it for ten minutes two times a week — you will see improvements the next day. And who knows, you may even graduate to the “scary-looking” spiky roller in no time.


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Eliminate Common Aches and Pains From Sitting at a Desk

DIY Ways to Eliminate Common Aches and Pains From Sitting at a Desk, original blog article by Dreamclinic Massage and Acupuncture Seattle, Redmond, BellevueWe’ve all seen the headlines: “Sitting Will Kill You, Even When You Exercise” (that is an actual headline from CNN). Then, two months later, another report comes out saying that standing at work all day is bad for your body and health, too.

Regardless of which one is actually true, the truth is that most of us have desk jobs, where we sit down the majority of the day. And even if sitting doesn’t end up killing us, pains From Sitting at a Desk can leave us stiff and uncomfortable.

Luckily, your achy back, sore neck, and popping joints are probably due to your chair and desk setup at work, which is very easy to fix.

So, instead of an expensive visit to the chiropractor to soothe those aches and pains from your desk job, try these easy tips to feel your best:


Customize your seating. Adjust your office chair so that it is slightly tilted back and comfortably supports your spine. This will help relieve lower back pain. Make sure your feet are planted flat on the ground and that your hands can comfortably reach the mouse and keyboard (you’re not hunching over the desk).

Take a walk. Moving around will help get your blood moving and prevent joint stiffness. Small breaks are also good for your brain, and can lead to increased creativity, better focus, and increased efficiency. Take a 20-minute walk during lunch and try to get up and move every hour if you can.

Try standing. Sometimes a change of perspective is all that’s needed. Standing at your desk engages muscles that you do not use while sitting, and gives your neck and lower back a break. To see if standing is right for you, try it for an hour or two and then go back to sitting.

Wear comfortable shoes. Even if you’re sitting, high or uncomfortable shoes can affect your posture and strain your joints. Comfortable shoes are especially important if you plan on standing at your desk. Look for good arch support and add an insert for extra support if needed.

Stretch regularly. Neck and shoulder rotations are especially helpful for office pain, and can be done anywhere and any time.

  • To stretch your back, plant your feet shoulder-width apart and slowly rotate your shoulders, breathing normally and shrugging them up and down every once in a while. Afterwards, cross one arm across your chest and pull gently on that elbow with your other arm. Repeat with the other arm.
  • To stretch your neck, sit up straight and slowly look over your left and right shoulders. Tilt your head back until you feel your chin muscles go taught, and tilt your head forwards with your chin towards your chest. Then, slowly roll your head in a large circle and repeat in the opposite direction.
  • To stretch your wrist, turn your hands palms up and place them on the edge of a table, with the insides of your arms facing away from you. You can also individually bend each finger towards the back of your hand to work additional cricks.
  • Invite a massage therapist into the office. This is a great office activity to boost morale. Invite a massage therapist once a month or once a quarter to the office to give massages and also to educate employees about health and wellness. Your colleagues will thank you!


Despite the media’s claims that sitting at your desk will lead to your death, it’s all about finding the right desk setup for you and your body. And that will look different for everyone. Try new things, like standing for an hour or going on a walk. Stretch at the office and when you get home. And, don’t believe everything you read in the news.