How self-care and massage can save your career

Alexandra Ellis
18/02/2015

As fitness professionals, our bodies are the key to our paychecks. For many of us, taking time off to rehab an injury or recover is not an option when we have mouths to feed and bills to pay. So, how do you keep nagging aches and pains at bay so you can continue to teach classes at full strength?

I ensure that I am able to perform at my highest ability with daily self-care. Self-care can encompass many things, including sufficient sleep and proper nutrition, but for me it also includes keeping my body injury resistant with stretching and myofascial release.

Feeding your body

Our bodies crave variety – and, if our teaching schedules include many similarly styled classes, it is important that we get the missing movement ‘nutrients’ from elsewhere. If you are a spin master, make sure you spend some time taking your hips into extension (think lunges and quad stretches) to give the front of your thighs some breathing room after all that time on the bike. It is difficult to get the full workout while teaching, especially if you demo. You may even be missing out on the warm-down stretches if you are helping students with adjustments and modifications. This can cause imbalances over time that may potentially lead to injury. 

Optimal functionality

So, what does self-care look like? I previously mentioned getting all of your movement nutrition, which means that you move your body and all of your joints in every way possible on a regular basis. Just as you work to get all of your nutrient blocks into your diet regularly, you should also be moving your body in novel ways to keep your joints functioning optimally.

 Hanging out

Many fitness professionals, myself included, spend a significant amount of time on our computer and smartphone daily, connecting with potential clients worldwide. For me, this repetitive motion, in addition to the lack of grip strength required in my personal workouts, left me with some nagging pain that no amount of stretching was alleviating. To counteract this and add a missing movement nutrient, I installed a chin-up bar at home so I could hang daily. This challenged my upper body and all of its joints, ligaments, and tendons to build strength gradually in a way they wouldn’t get otherwise. After a few weeks of hanging, some of the recurring aches and pains I previously had in my wrists and elbows have resolved – this is one movement that is definitely staying in rotation!

 Yoga Tune Up

In addition to hanging like a monkey, my self-care includes regular self-massage with Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Balls (YTU). My YTU balls allow me to roll into all of the nooks and crannies where tension may be hiding. While I try to program my different classes each week, there is still repetition that shows up in my body a few days later as muscle soreness. The texture of the YTU balls allows for specificity as they navigate around my bony bits to get into all of the sore spots, hydrating and releasing the muscle tissue so it can be ready to work for the next class. While there are many tools for self-massage – from foam rollers to lacrosse balls and everything in between – I have found that the grippiness and pliability of the YTU balls allow them to penetrate into the deepest layers of muscle and leave lasting effects, instead of the potential tissue damage that a harder tool may leave.

 The grippy softness of the YTU balls also provides an additional benefit: they are able to grab onto your skin and deeper fascias to create shear, which improves slide and glide between the multiple intermingled layers of your tissues. This also activates a specialized sensory nerve in your skin that encourages more parasympathetic tone. Think increased ‘rest and digest’ instead of the ‘fight or flight’ response that gets you through your day. So, in addition to helping to release tension and improve hydration in all of your tissues, you also get physical and mental relaxation. Every fitness professional and human being needs more self-care and repose. 

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