Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Massage your way to injury-free running

About the only time I seek out a good massage is when I am hurting from generally tired and achy muscles, or when I am suffering from a running injury. Massage to me is a little bit like yoga; I know it's great for the body but I haven't done enough research on it to fully comprehend its true benefits. What I do know, is that the more I run the more I feel like I need a good deep-tissue massage. I recently asked Robert Regnier, a licensed massage therapist and independent contractor here on Okinawa, if he could explain in detail why massage is good for the body and also for running. The following is an excerpt from the article Robert wrote for us:

Unfortunately, running ultras, 10 miles of trail and doing triathlon are about the least harmonious physical acts this side of Barnum and Bailey. Running naturally aids the body’s lymphatic system (which is built like our cardiovascular system without a “heart” to act as pump,) by releasing toxins and flushing lymph via the mechanical pump of flexion and extension. However, the cumulative production and build-up of metabolic waste involved with a rigorous training cycle is too much for our bodies to move for processing, especially from the lower legs and feet, hence, the swollen feet, calves and ankles (Sugars, Kosher foods, nitrates and pork breakfast meats can more than double natural inflammation,). Inflammation and edema are part of the body’s healing process (Chemical Feedback Loop in response to trauma: 1. Initial trauma, 2. Chemical mediators of inflammation, 3. Vasodilation, 4. Edema, 5. Chemical build-up, 6. muscle spasm, 7. Reactive Ischemia, which body perceives as trauma, beginning loop again,), but stagnated lactic acid, dead RBCs and free-radical-scavenger waste can contribute to discoloring, crepitus and tissue restriction. Light-to-moderate massage easily assists in moving waste to lymph nodes where natural cleansing occurs.

The full article, which provides an extensive and thorough explanation on how massage can benefit runners, has been posted as a document on our WOOT Facebook page; it will remain there as a permanent resource for those of you who wish to read more on the topic.
If you're looking for the short scoop though, here's what I found on a health and wellness site called

Massage therapy is used actively for runners. There are three types of massage programs for runners and other athletes:
  • Maintenance Massage: The aim of this massage is to regularly stimulate and massage select muscles in the body so as to aid in ensuring optimal performance without injury
  • Pre-event massage: A more vigorous form of massage, this massage is provided prior to an event.It is meant to supplement warm up and thereby increases blood circulation and reduces stress on the muscles. It also has profound benefits on reducing mental tension and mental stress prior to a competition
  • Post-event massage: This massaged is aimed at reducing muscle spasm and aids in removal of metabolic toxins built up after the vigorous exercise. This also helps in reducing the risk of injuries among athletes.
As I mentioned above, it's usually not until I've done some damage to my joints, muscles or ligaments that I wind up looking for a massage therapist. Perhaps if I were to indulge a little and spend some extra money on keeping up with a maintenance program I might reduce my odds of injury and even improve my overall performance. That might be true for you too, and assuming you might be willing to incorporate regular massage therapy into your monthly training schedule, here's a few places that have been tried and tested by some of us WOOT ladies:

  1. Robert Regnier - works independently from home, off-base near Kadena gate 5 (you can search for him on Facebook). Robert is able to do sports massage and really get deep into any problem areas. Robert was charging $35 an hour but you should check with him first for confirmation.
  2. MCCS Semper Fit gyms - you can call your nearest MCCS fitness center to make an appointment; a one hour appointment costs $30. You may have to try several different therapists before you find one you like.
  3. Risner Fitness Center (Kadena) - appointments with a massage therapist at Risner must be made at the customer service desk and paid for in advance; they will not accept phone reservations. A one hour massage costs $45.
  4. Jasmine Thai Massage - If you've never tried a thai massage I most definitely recommend it. This type of massage is a dry massage, meaning no oil is used and the massage is performed on top of clothing, not skin. The pressure is very deep and intense, and lots of deep stretching is included. A 90 minute massage costs Y6000, or a 2 hour massage costs Y8000. Jasmine is about 1.7k south along the pipeline from MCAAS Futenma main gate. Call 090-2969-4744 for an appointment. They are also able to do "couples"  appointments.
  5. Life Chiropractic - Both dry and oil massages are available at Life Chiropractic Center, as well as Thai Yoga massages. A one hour seitai massage (dry) or one hour thai yoga massage costs Y4500; a one hour relaxation oil massage or one hour lymphatic detox massage costs Y6000; also available is a 75 minute lymphatic detox massage for Y7500. Online appointments can be scheduled by visiting
If you know of any other places to get a sports or deep tissue massage please comment below.

1 comment:

  1. The following info was provided by Laurie Pierce Walther:

    I was just talking to someone on Saturday about the Japanese man I've been going to for almost a year. His name is Ryoichi. I go once a month to keep IT band problems under contro...l. He doesn't speak a lot of English, but his wife, Akemi, does. She is the one who answers the phone when you call for an appointment. He is located on Highway 20 a couple of miles out of Gate 2 of Kadena. He does mostly pressure point manipulation so it isn't anything like relaxing massages in the US, but there have been a couple of times that I had some tightness and didn't say anything because of the language barrier and he found it anyway and worked it out. Also, wear workout type clothes because you stay fully dressed. His number is 098-933-2205. I think he works with a lot of Japanese marathoners. If anyone wants more information let me know.