Thursday, December 09th, 2010

Alvin Tam handstand on Human Touch massage chairOver my 17-year career as a professional athlete and acrobat, I have experienced a wide spectrum of injuries. The circus and acrobatic performing world is physically demanding and I’ve suffered injuries to nearly every major joint in my body! I am often asked about appropriate recovery methods and I always recommend the one thing that has helped all of my injuries– proper relaxation, and lots of it.

Whether it was a common ankle sprain or a more serious head concussion, the key to ensuring my rapid recovery was immediate rest. In today’s fast-paced culture, professional athletes are rewarded for how quickly they can get back into the game. This anxious mentality is shared by many other people even when career, money or reputation is not on the line. For the first few days after an injury, it is natural to take a break from exercising because pain is such a powerful deterrent to movement. But when the pain subsides, the desire to get back to being active can sometimes overshadow the more critical priority of maintaining a restful state. It is important to realize that the absence of pain does not mean that you are healed! We are actually putting our bodies at stake if we neglect the commitment to relaxation during the healing process.

I have repeatedly made the mistake of returning to training too quickly after an injury. Each time I began training before I was fully recovered, I was ultimately prolonging my healing process and delaying my athletic progression. Even worse, the pain from my injury would turn into a throbbing dull ache that persisted over many months, and sometimes years. The apparent benefits from training before I was fully recovered were completely lost due to the many weeks, even months, of half-effort training that followed.

My Human Touch chair was optimal for promoting that crucial deep-healing state of relaxation during my recovery. The means of reaching total recovery is not partial or temporary relaxation, but a total and complete release of the muscles and skeletal structure, leading to a gradual calming of the nervous system. This is why setting aside daily relaxation sessions help the body release tension and stress, encouraging a healthy recovery. Although certain areas of the body may need to be immobilized after an injury (for instance, a twisted ankle may not respond well to massage pressure), do not overlook the importance of ensuring a rested and relaxed body. I’ve discovered that muscles function systematically with one another. Tension in one part of the body leads to tension in all parts of the body; therefore, as you relax one part of the body, the rest of the body relaxes as well.

In some cases, sudden injuries like twisted ankles, thrown backs and concussions not only shock the affected body part but also the nervous system as a whole. For days, one may experience odd symptoms that seemingly have nothing to do with the injury – mood swings, angry rages, or moments of sadness. Recognize that the shock induced on your body can only be dissipated over time. Daily relaxation in your Human Touch chair can ease the spirit and mind as it simultaneously promotes physical relaxation.

Some believe that an aggressive deep-tissue massage is conducive to recovery, but the advantages of regular, gentle and constant relaxation sessions heavily outweigh the former. A Human Touch chair not only promotes relaxation, it also results in gradual deep healing. Your massage chair is always available to you, which is perfect for busy schedules. Using it as part of your daily healing process can be highly effective in your recovery training. Take the time you would normally spend exercising and relax in your chair instead, knowing that the blissful sensation of release is actually the best thing you can do for yourself and for your injury.

Integrating relaxation into your training is as important as nutrition, proper equipment and appropriate training techniques. Although massage is often an overlooked area in fitness and recovery programs, it is definitely one of the most essential and effective tools for all types of injuries.

Happy Training,
Alvin Tam

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