‘…Happier than a bodybuilder directing traffic.” There he stands, in the middle of traffic. Flexing magnificence while grinning ear to ear and signaling cars to safe traffic patterns. We’ve all seen that Geico commercial. The bodybuilder bulging out of his skin and looking like an Adonis or oddity depending on your personal physique preferences.
Although I don’t aspire to develop to this size, I too work to sculpt my physique as a Figure Bodybuilding athlete. Recently, one of my Facebook friends posted this question on our Figure group page,
“Just got a massage and my tight muscles were really talking to me. Planning to do that more often so they detox regularly and can get the optimal growth I desire. Do you get massages regularly and how has it helped your physique?”
This is a great question! I personally use several different techniques to help improve the look of my own physique. I have also been able to help other competitors gain an edge developing and maintaining their physiques by using a variety of bodywork modalities. These modalities include Lymphatic Drainage Technique, Deep Tissue/Myofacial Technique, & Thai Massage. All of these impact physique function and appearance in many ways. In the next few weeks, I will be touching on how these modalities impact the bodybuilder as well as weekend warrior athletes.
Part 1 – LDT: The Transformer – More Than Meets the Eye
When we begin a session, the first thing a client will say is, “It’s such a feather light technique, how can this do anything?” By the time we’re done, the client’s eyes are wide and filled with epiphany as the common reaction is, “Whoah!! I would have never expected that to be this powerful!”
How indeed can a technique that targets the immune system be such a powerful tool in helping with the look and recovery of the body? Well, let’s consider what happens in the body of the hard-core body builder:
When we work out, we tear up muscle tissue. The body repairs these fibers, replacing them with stronger, denser fibers. In the world of competitive bodybuilding, we lift heavier than the average gym go-er in order to encourage this process on a grander scale. What happens next day is usually a lovely case of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). If you look at what DOMS really is, suddenly you can see the connection between it and lymphatic work. Many think that DOMS is the result of lactic acid build up settling in the muscle. Not so. That chemical actually dissipates about an hour after exercise. DOMS is actually caused by the localized SWELLING that occurs a day or so later due to the micro-tears in the muscle fibers! So now you have swelling, cellular debris from your workout, which destroyed weaker fibers so new ones can grow, and a healing process that needs to occur quickly so you can get the best out of your next workout.
Through a single lymphatic session, we boost these natural by 10-30x’s their every day capacity. Keeping in mind that the lymphatic system is responsible for regulating swelling, cleaning out cellular debris and facilitating healing to the injured area, that becomes a pretty powerful asset to workout recovery.
In the final days leading up to a contest, the bodybuilding athlete strives to minimize fat cells so that the muscle bellies and individual fibers can show through. During this phase of training (approximately 4 weeks), any amount of
swelling in the physique is easily detected. This swelling can obscure these coveted muscular separations and can even skew the visual line of the body’s symmetry. By using LDT on a body builder, I have noticed that the work, especially in this pre-contest mode, is highly effective in removing the “watery” look we all strive to drop prior to stage time. The result is a harder looking physique with more definition and better symmetry.
Also consider nutrition. I use a series of branched chain amino acids and fat burners in conjunction with lymphatic & deep tissue work. As I clean out areas of stagnated fluid caused by intense workouts and break up the micro scarring that results as the old tissue heals, I know my body will be receiving the nutrition it needs to amplify the results of my recovery. I find that the fat burners I use are even more effective encouraging fat mobilization and elimination. A revved up lymphatic system works to compliment this metabolic process fat is one of the components it is responsible for transporting!
I have to say, the results I get doing this work on bodybuilders blows me away every time I do it. It’s incredible to see swelling disappear right before my eyes and be replaced with more defined muscle bellies. In some cases, I’ve had to make a concerted effort to prevent giving myself a high five or fist pump in mid session to celebrate (I usually wait until the client leaves the studio before engaging in my Victory Lymphatic Dance).
I’ve been doing my best to educate my fellow bodybuilders on exactly how this system works. I’ve done my best to post a couple of fun blogs to my website in order to explain the basics with a little bit of humor. (I figure maybe if they can’t have ice cream, heck, maybe a good laugh might help!)
Next blog – Deep Tissue/Myofacial Techniques. Stay tuned!!