Using massage to support your training and recovery – a catch up with Massage Therapist Steph Song
Steph Song is a Massage Therapist and founding owner of Still Motion Massage. Steph completed her qualifications through the New Zealand of Massage with a Certificate in Relaxation Massage along with completing a Diploma in Health Science (Therapeutic Massage) and Clinical Massage.
She got into massage therapy around 4 years ago and used her new found skills to develop a successful Massage Clinic in Wellington CBD.
Steph discovered manual therapy when she started seeing an osteopath due to a hip injury. The osteopath performed soft tissue manipulation and massage work.
“It blew my mind every time I would walk out of appointments in way less pain.”
As Steph started in the gym she became progressively body aware and intrigued about how our body works.
Steph started toying with the idea of pursuing a career in an alternative health and wellness industry. With the encouragement of friends and family, Steph decided to pursue a career in massage therapy.
Steph’s favourite tools and techniques to use in massage therapy
“I use a wide range of tools and techniques, in one session alone, it’s hard for me to pick a favourite!”
However, Myofascial Cupping is effective in releasing stiff fascia and muscles and relaxing at the same time. I get great feedback from clients in using cupping during a session.
My other notable favourites techniques are:
- Trigger pointing - the classic technique used by massage therapists. It is always very satisfying feeling a trigger point being released.
- Scraping/IASTM around joints/tendons paired with stretching or Muscle Energy techniques for an instant significant change in ROM.
What drew Steph into CrossFit
I tried my first class after watching Fittest on Earth documentary and was instantly hooked. At that time, I was Powerlifting training, which I enjoyed but the movements were generally quite repetitive.
It was the variety and intensity that drew me to CrossFit. I felt healthier, and my body felt stronger.
How regularly should you see a massage therapist?
For general wellness and supplement to training, I would recommend once a week to start off with, depending on the amount of physical and mental stress.
The effect of massage is cumulative, and clients will feel a difference after as little as 2-3 weeks or regular weekly sessions. From there, weekly or fortnightly sessions enable you to maintain healthy muscles and stay injury free.
Steph notes that when dealing a specific injury or musculoskeletal disorder, chronic pain or chronic stress, this will be condition dependant, typically every 5-7 days. Your massage therapist will advise on frequency and estimated number of treatments.
Three benefits massage and manipulation therapy can provide to a CrossFit athlete
- IMPROVED MOBILITY
Massage therapy is an effective treatment to improve mobility. Good mobility, including stabilisation helps the athlete to achieve more efficient movement patterns, making movements feel easier. Chance of getting an injury will also be lower. Working with a therapist to identify mobility restrictions and target specific muscles that are holding you back in training will help with performance.
- AID RECOVERY
Massage therapy helps with recovery. For a CrossFit athlete, recovery is everything.
Massage improves blood flow and circulation, ensuring muscles return to their optimal state a lot quicker in between training. It also speeds up recovery in injuries or to prevent them.
- PSYCHOLOGICAL & MENTAL HEALTH
Massage therapy provides a huge impact on the psychological and mental health of the athlete. The average CrossFit athlete have full time jobs, families to take care of. Daily life can be quite demanding on top of training. Thus, massage therapy allows the athlete to carve out some time for themselves to destress and relax.
Most common weak points or areas of tightness that Steph sees in CrossFit athletes
“The most common areas of complain would probably be shoulders. Followed closely by hips, lower back, ankles and the elbows.”
CrossFit movements involve a high level of joint mobility and stability throughout the body. If we lack the right movement patterns or engaging the wrong muscles or joints during movement then this could lead compensatory patterns.
CrossFitters are also very good at pushing through pain.
“In my opinion, if we feel a bad pain (different from muscle burn from lactic acid build up) or if a particular movement does not feel right, we should not disregard the pain.”
Things CrossFitters can do themselves to support their performance
Taking a nice warm Epsom salt bath is always nice and relaxing. Epsom baths also help with muscle recovery.
Mobility tools that are most handy for athletes to have at home
The Mobility Ball is probably one of the most effective, convenient and inexpensive selfcare tool for myofascial release and ease stiffness.
Using a mobility ball can target harder to reach areas, and great to use on your back, pecs, feet, calves, shoulders.
Thanks so much for your time Steph!