For those that don’t know my wife is 7 months pregnant. Last night we had our first lamaze class.
While, i can say that learned a lot it did remind me of a few things that would be a good for you guys to know. The lamaze class is primarily focused on pain management, but the same skills cross over into recovery techniques. One of the most important things about pain management
is learning how to relax. lamaze primarily focuses on light massage and breathing techniques, we’re going to discuss those and a few others today.
Massage works because of something called open and close gate theories. Basically the nerves for touch are about twice the diameter as those for pain receptors. This means that they conducted at twice the velocity. Because of the increased speed (more information in a shorter time) your body chooses to listen to the faster signal. This is the reason why you instinctively rub a spot after you have hit it on something. The same technique of light massage can be used in sore muscle recovery. This technique will distract you from the pain (helping muscles relax) while a deep massage technique will actually increase pain causing your muscles to tighten, causing more pain in slowing recovery.
So what about the breathing technique? Honestly the breathing technique used in lamaze classes differ little to any other breathing technique for relaxation purposes. The principle is based on the fact that slow deep breathing helps muscles relax. Breath holding causes muscle to tighten. What is most interesting is that in a low stress environment, this is a natural practice and wouldn’t even need to be discussed. However, when under stress the tendency is to hold your breath which causes your muscles to tighten therefor limiting blood flow, which in turn reduces muscle recovery. This is actually a survival mechanism. Your body actually transfers force better when you hold your breath. Try an experiment: sprint as hard as you can, try a one rep max squat, throw a ball as hard as you can, swing a golf club, swing a baseball bat; notice you’re breathing during each. I guarantee that you will not even be able to breathe on most. If you try, it will feel completely awkward. Try not to think about, but still pay attention to it. This is the main reason why I recommend actually holding your breathe while you lift. So because of this natural tendency most of us hold our breathe or breathe very shallowly throughout the day. This reduces oxygen to the muscles and encourages muscle to tighten and hence restricts blood flow. This reduces recovery. Slow deep breathing throughout out the day will turn off stress mechanisms and aid in muscle relaxation which will encourage recovery.
I will discuss more advanced recovery techniques later.