Stretch It Out

The key to athletic injury prevention and recovery lies in flexibility, sport-specific strength training and massage.

By:
Tamra Christiansen, Director of Fitness and Wellness

Well, you get my point.

I am here to tell you that if you are dedicated to moving your body, if you have played sports before or if you are just starting out with a new physical activity or sport, then you, my friend, are some form of an athlete. I say this for two reasons: 1) I don’t believe in downplaying who you are and 2) when you are being physically active consistently, you are going to have to approach your health like an athlete. It doesn’t mean you have to participate in an Ironman (though some of our members do!), but it does mean that you have to do many things to prepare for your work, prevent injury and stay balanced both mentally and physically.

Let’s start with the body verses the activity. For golfers, you are using your entire body. If you are playing without a proper warm-up, you will incur low back, hip, shoulder, knee or wrist strains or injuries. So much power goes into the golf swing. The number one injury for golfers and the number one injury affecting nearly 65 million Americans is low back pain. It’s the same with tennis and pickleball. Even with a proper warm-up and cool-down, many are affected by shoulder, wrist and ankle injuries. With runners and walkers, the injuries are usually in the knees and low back. Hunting and fishing have risk of injury during the preparation and during the sport itself. What I am trying to say is that all sports are not without the risk of injury.

I am a true believer of the body being a kinetically connected unit. If one area is tight, it will eventually effect the rest of the body and the way the body is meant to move.

So, do we quit to just avoid it all? No way! I often ask clients who incurred injuries during or later after high school and collegiate sports, “Was it worth it?” Most of the time the answer is yes, and I agree wholeheartedly! Our bodies are made to be put to the test and heal while we do what we love most.

What’s the solution? It’s important to address injury prevention and recovery through flexibility, sport/activity-specific strength training and massage. When we have tournaments and races, we have aches, pains and sometimes injuries along the way. Start with activity-specific warm-ups. Dynamic warm-ups are movements in the way you will be moving in the activity you are preparing for. For golf and tennis, a twisting range of motion through the upper and lower torso are so important. For example, using a tubing or TheraBand to warm up your shoulders and wrists is vital, and leg swings for the hips are huge. Moving in a way that complements the work you are about to do will get you through your week of training.

If you find you are still aching during or after your practices and games, come and see us in the Fitness Center to show you how to be specific to your sport’s and your body’s needs. We have all the equipment you need to work with for stretching out sore muscles. Strengthening smaller groups of muscles around a joint will give it the support it needs to avoid injury. We are only as strong as our weakest link, right?

This brings me to several tools for recovery. The Power Plate is a piece of equipment that aids in a better path to flexibility, massage, circulation, lymphatic drainage and balance and aids in strengthening the bones with osteopenia and osteoporosis. If you have not tried the Power Plate, schedule a session with one of our trainers and you will feel the difference! 

We also have the Precor Stretch Machine and it takes your body through safe and gentle stretches. This piece of equipment can be used in a dynamic-style movement (beginning of your workout or before a round of golf) or as a static stretch (at the end of your workout with 30-60 second holds). Our trainers have sports-specific stretches to show you that will improve your game.   

Donna Buie Earley and I have several clients who come in just for a manual stretch session and feel so much better for it. A manual stretch isn’t passive by any means. The member being stretched breathes intentionally to release the tight hamstrings, chest muscles or the part of the body being stretched. We use a contract-relax method to gain more flexibility. A 30-minute stretch session allows for release in general, but I am a true believer of the body being a kinetically connected unit. If one area is tight, it will eventually affect the rest of the body and the way the body is meant to move. If you stretch all around an area that is bound up, it gives the affected or injurious area freedom to be safely stretched.  

Come to one of our mini clinics for foam rolling, which is also known as myofascial release. This allows release in the fascial system that runs through the muscular system of the body. I have many members tell me they have stretched and stretched but cannot seem to find relief in a certain area of their back, legs, etc. If we are bound up by a knot in the fascial system or in a muscle, we can stretch all day, but that area will remain tight because we need to release that space. Using a release ball or a foam roller in the right way will alleviate the tightness.

Kelly Vizzone teaches ELDOA, which helps to align the spine and release tension. Kelly’s goal for you is to get to know the ELDOAs for your body and use them in your daily practice. With proper alignment, the body is less prone to injury.

Our Pilates team, Kris Cracknell, Ronnie White and Donna Buie Earley can help your core to your entire body get longer and stronger with the lengthening and strengthening effect of the Pilates Reformers and Chairs. Yoga allows your body to destress through deep breathing and flexibility-provoking poses.   

This brings me to massage. Getting regular massages helps your body overcome injuries and relaxes the muscles so you can perform your very best. Massage not only relaxes tight musculature, but it also helps the lymphatic system to drain, unties stubborn knots that are restricting movement, lowers blood pressure, destresses the mind and body and allows for better movement and flexibility. Our massage team is trained in manual stretching, too. 

Oksana Robertson is one of Cordillera’s massage therapists who believes “Massage is not just a luxury. It is a way to a happier, healthier life.” She offers luxury and deep tissue, stone and honey treatments, exfoliating and trigger point massages. This is a great way to work through soreness from your sports and activities and to calm your mind from everyday stressors. Her honey massage is one option to cupping, being that it gently releases the muscle’s knots and bound-up fascia, bringing optimal blood flow to the area. More blood flow equals quicker healing and release of tightness. Oksana is available on the weekends, which makes it convenient to schedule a session. If you just finished a golf round, or are staying at the Lodges and need pampering, Oksana is here for you!

Lisa Geiman has the gift of release for tight muscles and a bound-up neck. While you might have to schedule a few days in advance, she is worth it. She offers everything from relaxation to deep tissue, aromatherapy, stone and cupping. Many might shy away from cupping, but it truly aids in releasing a knot that has trouble letting go. What you see on the skin is not bruising, but cupping marks, which reveal “stagnant blood, cellular debris that are a result of past or present injury or illness.” The body is releasing toxins, which leads to healing in that area. Many pro-athletes use cupping to reduce the severity and speed up the healing process of an injury.   

Amanda Rebollar has a schedule full of Cordillera Ranch athletes. They know the weekly, bi-weekly or monthly regularly scheduled massages are what keep them stretched, less injury-prone and relaxed. Amanda offers stretch sessions as well. There is a reason she is booked solid, but if you ever go from her waitlist to being a client, it will be a treat! 

 To recap, it’s all about the balance of health and wellness — when you are physically active and especially dedicated to a certain sport or two, you must do all the things! They are essential in the continuation of your workouts. Working out requires proper nutrition. When you are working out, you must practice flexibility, especially flexibility specific to your sport. After finishing your sport, static stretching is important because a HUGE part of being physically active is recovery.

Tamra Christiansen is the Fitness and Wellness Director at The Clubs of Cordillera Ranch. She can be reached at tchristiansen@cordilleraranch.com and 830.336.9184.

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