The summer has been very kind to us this year. We got to go out and compete or train much later into the year than we usually get to and enjoy being outdoors whether it be running, cycling or swimming. I can bet though that almost everyone felt some kind of niggle during the year, or even a full blown injury at some point.
No matter how active you are in your spare time, most of us actually spend the majority of our time at a desk or performing some kind of repetitive activity as part of our job. Poor posture and repetitive movements cause postural imbalances, and postural imbalances lead to over compensating, niggles and eventually injury.
I can guarantee that even the most fit and injury free of you will have imbalances somewhere in your body. Even if these are not significant enough to cause injury, they may well be inhibiting the efficient movement of your body and slowing you down.
One of the best things you can possibly do this winter is use the off-season to work on your body's imbalances and weaknesses leading to more efficient movement and less injury. To do this effectively you are going to need a little help from an experienced soft tissue therapist. This could be a sport massage therapist, a physiotherapist or a PT. The key is that they look at your posture and muscle weaknesses, help you to release what is tight and give you some exercises to strengthen what is weak. All of these professions have people within them who are qualified and knowledgable to do this, however I must warn people to stay away from therapists who simply rub what hurts without performing any assessment. There are a fair few of these about too! It took me 4 attempts to find a physio I was 100% happy with when I had knee issues (see below for my recommendations in the Bristol area).
Here are the 5 reasons to go to a good soft tissue therapist over the winter:
1. A good therapist will identify any areas of imbalance in your body. Working on these will make you FASTER! Don't only go to a therapist when injured.
2. A good therapist will help you avoid injury by helping to release tight muscles and teaching you how to strengthen weak ones. This takes times however, so go see a therapist now before you ramp your training up.
3. A good therapist will teach you to be more body aware and will offer you tips on improving the quality of your movement. This can lead to greater efficiency and reduced chance of injury.
4. A good stretching/massage/exercise session is really enjoyable and you will feel better for it instantly. A good therapist will monitor progress using tests and assessment so you can see the improvements you are making.
5. Maintaining your body with the help of a therapist over the winter will help you train more and get faster quicker. Recovery times after hard training sessions will be reduced and you will be more focussed on your areas of weakness.
I've had the pleasure of working with and being treated by some wonderful therapists who are all experienced in providing an excellent level of treatment focussed at injury prevention, postural correction and sports performance. These people all come highly recomended in the Bristol area:
Jenny Buckley: Jenny is the founder of Physio Hut and offers physio, sports massage and a pre-hab service which is designed to identify where injury could happen and put it right before it does. She works out of The Triathlon Shop on a Wednesday.
Pete Tang: Pete owns The Physio Clinic in north Bristol. He was the physio that I trusted with my knee! He works closely with Matt (see below) to create treatment programs that solve an issue for good rather than just reducing pain short term.
Olivia Daniell: Olivia is a highly qualified therapist who uses sports massage as one of her tools in order to treat muscle imbalances or aid recovery after an injury. She identifies the cause of any problem and treats the body as a whole to gain long term results. Having received treatment from her I can vouch for her skills and knowledge. She works out of The Triathlon Shop on Tuesdays and Fridays.
Ben Andrews: Ben is primarily a personal trainer, but is also a highly qualified sports massage therapist. Ben can combine these two skills in order to provide a package of exercise and treatment to help you reach your goals. His knowledge and experience is well beyond your average PT. He is based in the Clifton area.
Matt Williams: Matt runs the Sports Performance Clinic which works closely with The Physio Clinic. He provides sports massage, training programmes, rehab guidance and a service called the 'performance matrix' which identifies where there is a lack of control or strength in the body. Matt helped me get back to sport after having knee surgery and comes highly recommended.
I have been treated by all of the people listed above and would happily recommend them to anyone. Being a qualified therapist myself I appreciate what these people are doing with their clients is a step above the rest. Go book in a session with one of them!