By Tia Norris, May 2017 Issue of Echo Magazine in Phoenix, AZ.
You’ve seen the rituals of seasoned Olympians on the world’s biggest stage and the post-game status updates of your favorite professional athletes on social media, but did you realize that every individual athlete – from the occasional weekend warrior up to the most elite all-stars on the planet – needs a team of experts in their corner to keep them performing at their best as well as free of injuries?
It’s no surprise that the best of the best have strength coaches, athletic trainers, massage therapists, acupuncturists, nutritionists, physical therapists and so many others working with them on a regular basis. I refer to this roster of experts as a “wellness team.”
Now for the surprise, however: Everyone needs a wellness team – including you. To help underscore the importance of this essential step to achieving your goals, I have included a brief description of my own wellness team members (in order of my usage and recommendation to the general public).
1. Personal Trainer
If you only employ one person in your life to be in charge of your diet and fitness, this is your one-stop shop. But be warned, many trainers talk the talk, but tragically fail to walk the walk. You must do your research to find the perfect fit for you. A great personal trainer will be able to teach proper weightlifting techniques, coach you on proper nutrition habits, design an individually specific program just for you, correct and rehab minor injuries and prescribe mobility-related tasks specific for your imbalances. A trainer also provides knowledge, accountability and motivation in the realm of diet and fitness, which is priceless. Remember, even trainers have trainers – there is magic in the power of two!
2. Massage Therapist
If the personal trainer is the wrecking ball, the massage therapist if the clean-up crew. And no, we aren’t talking about a day at the spa here. There are many problems that a trainer simply cannot correct with exercise alone. The trainer works in tandem (hopefully) with the massage therapist to attack issues from different angles. For example, let’s say your trainer is constantly harping on you about your posture, particularly your low back and hips. There is only so much squatting, stretching and lunging that the trainer can make you do to correct this problem. So, the massage therapist then can manually work the affected muscle groups to release tension, which will make your next gym session much more productive.
For the general public, I recommend one hour of massage every two weeks – no less than one hour every three weeks – regardless of your activity level. Of course, if you’re exercising more, you should get more work. And ask your massage therapist about cupping, taping, scraping or other effective therapeutic techniques.
The bottom line is that this isn’t optional! Deep tissue massage is, in fact, injury prevention. If you neglect this domain, it is 100 percent inevitable that your exercise routine will cause an injury down the road.
3. Physical Therapist
Let me just be blunt here: most physical therapists (like personal trainers) suck. Sorry, I’m not sorry. If you end up with an injury or critical imbalance, you’ll find yourself spending quality time with a physical therapist. If you don’t have a good one you’ll be forced to endure the b.s. thoughtless, mass-produced “corrective techniques” that the therapist learned from their textbook. What you really need is someone who thinks outside the box. If, at the physical therapist, you are not getting better, not being asked constantly what’s going on with you and your injury or are bored and/or wondering if your physical therapist is a dumbass, then you’re in the wrong place. Find a new one, STAT!
4. Chiropractor, Acupuncturist
I use a chiropractor for structural issues. If you cannot solve your problems through exercise and massage, you may want to see a chiropractor. They, too, might be able to attack your problem from a different angle. The chiropractor might also be able to do cupping, dry needling, scraping, or other effective therapeutic techniques in house.
I use acupuncture if I’m too f*cking stressed. I know plenty of people who use acupuncture for many purposes, but my go-to is if I’m too mental and can’t break out of my own head. Again, if you aren’t able to solve what ails you with the above mentioned measures, give acupuncture a try and see how it goes.
Every person on the planet will benefit from having a wellness team of some sort. The more active you are, the deeper your bench needs to be. Start making contacts and taking care of yourself … your performance and recovery will only benefit!