Our bodies have limits. They are not indestructible, and there is only so far we can push them before they start to fail. Our bodies are precious.
Two years ago, I ran my first marathon. Although running and keeping in shape is something I’ve always endeavoured to do, the idea of a marathon was a completely different challenge to anything I’d ever worked towards. I used my Nike app to create a plan and began training four months before the big event. I have to say that I stuck to it…albeit a mental and physical effort at times.
My training took place mainly on evenings and weekend mornings; fitting in the long hours I spent in school (alas I am a teacher – there are still some of us left!). When the runs began to get longer and more heavy-going on my legs, I would run to my parent’s house, where they would have an ice bath waiting for me to slowly lower my aching and burning legs into. Indeed, it’s not the most pleasant experience, but it definitely helped with my recovery. Recovery – a word I have become rather accustomed to. You see, I was fortunate enough to go through four months of intense training and the actual marathon injury free. And although..yes, I have trained in some way or another all my life, and yes, I was good at stretching pre and post run, there’s one element I truly believe helped with my recovery and ability to train better and harder. The element I am talking about is the sports therapy treatment I received throughout my training.
Sports therapy can play a vital part in the life of any sportsman whether they are injured or not. The application of sports massage may bring about various physical, physiological and psychological changes in the body of the person being treated. It can help maintain the body in generally better condition, prevent injuries and loss of mobility, cure and restore mobility to injured muscle tissue, boost performance and extend the overall life of the individual’s sporting career.
In a physiological sense, this type of massage helps reduce waste products and tension, which can cause pain as well as releasing the body’s endorphins. Muscles also relax through the heat generated, circulation, and stretching. Mechanoreceptors which sense touch, pressure, tissue length and warmth are stimulated causing a reflex relaxation. And finally (the part I found particularly beneficial training so intensely alongside teaching) it has several psychological benefits such as: enhances mental relaxation, reduced anxiety, improves mood, distraction of the mind and (if it’s invigorating) increases mental alertness.
The importance of sports therapy developed considerably during and after my marathon training, so much so that I began to read up on sports therapy, which fairly soon evolved into deciding to train as a sports therapist. This began as a hobby which has now, excitingly, turned into an occupation. I am a true believer of the saying ‘If you don’t have your health, then you don’t have anything’. We need to support our bodies and all the wonderful capabilities they have to maintain a happy, fulfilled and active lifestyle.
Kay Mallinson is a newly qualified Sports Therapist and teacher who lives in Wakefield, West Yorkshire. She began her career as a dancer, performing in her first professional show at 11 years old, before expanding her passion to acting, attending drama school at 19. While Kay still enjoys performing, her focus now is on evolving her Sports Therapy career, working alongside athletes of all backgrounds and abilities, coupled with developing her own training in running and HIIT.