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By Megan Smiley, May 22 2019 11:24AM



Having recently spent nine months doing a part-time massage course through the Western School at Glasgow Caledonian University, I am now a qualified Massage Therapist!


It was something I had been thinking about doing for a while, as the older I get, the more I realise how important it is to look after our bodies. Looking after yourself comes in many ways and will be different for different people but I think the main areas include:


Movement


This doesn't have to be traditional exercise and sport but some sort of movement which includes a mixture of activities, some that increase your heart rate, some that increase endorphin production, and some that increase/maintain your strength.


Nutrition


Eating the right amounts of nutritious foods, ensuring a variety of both macronutrients and micronutrients to help your body function optimally.


Hydration


Drinking plenty of water, and not too much of the less good stuff, yes I'm looking at you coffee, tea, fizzy drinks and alcohol!


Sleep


This is an important one. People don't realise what an impact not getting enough does to your body. Therefore, it's not only important to allocate enough time for sleep, but also try and address any problems that are affecting your sleep.


Self care/preservation


The term self-care has become a bit of a buzz word over the past couple of years and rightly so I think. In modern life stress levels are high, everything is rushed and less time is spent relaxing and doing things that we enjoy for no other reason than enjoyment, e.g. not for the benefit of a social media post, or because you feel you should, or because you're expected too, but just because it feels good. The benefits of doing something that you enjoy with no strings attached will have a beneficial impact on your mental and physical health. Self care/preservation activities could also be things you don't necessarily enjoy but are good for maintaining your body in good working order, this could be things like going to the dentist or regular health checks.



Massage is definitely something that I class as self care/preservation and can also help in other areas such as with movement and sleep. Massage has many benefits including to help:


- reduce muscle tension and spasms

- improve muscle tone

- reduce risk of injury

- increase circulation and nutrition to areas of the body

- increase range of motion (ROM)

- improve postural awareness

- reduce build up of scar tissue

- reduce anxiety

- reduce stress level

- improve sleep

- relieve pain

- boost energy levels

- prepare muscles for use e.g. prior to a race/sporting event


I have loved learning more about the body and the way it works on this massage course, and am glad to be able to add a new offering to my existing business of personal training and nutritional advice.


I believe health is more than just sit ups and press ups as I outlined above, hence wanting to broaden the way I can help people feel fit, strong and healthy. Our bodies are amazing bits of kit that we should all be looking after. Now I'm going to practice what I preach and book myself in for a massage. If you want a massage get in touch!



By Megan Smiley, Feb 16 2018 03:08PM

I tweaked a muscle in my shoulder yesterday which meant I had to stop the full body strength training session I was halfway through and transition the session into a lying down leg and ab focused workout! I was annoyed as it messed up my training plan for the week, plus it is pretty sore to turn my head to the left...


I then got some perspective on the situation as I was thinking about the 3,000 athletes currently competing at the Winter Olympics, and all the others that trained but because of an injury/situation weren’t competing. For people where sport is not only their passion and profession but their whole life, what must it feel like to pick up an injury or illness resulting in missing your chance you’ve been building up to and worked so hard for? Also, what about those cruel mishaps like Elise Christie’s hand getting knocked and her missing out on a medal in the short-track speed skating, especially after missing out on a medal in all three of her disciplines in Sochi four years ago.


To many the thought of being a top athlete where training is your job, might sound like a lot of fun but as with many things, the grass is always greener from afar. Whilst training and competing the pressure is immense, the training relentless and the sacrifices many. The money side of things can also be difficult, with funding and sponsorship limited to those at the top of their game, it can often be a struggle to support the training programmes, diet and lifestyle required.


But what seems like the hardest part is retirement, which even if they have a long and injury-free career, is very early compared to most others professions. There can be a difficult transition into “normal” life, and apart from coaching or commentating, for which there isn’t the demand to accommodate the number of retired athletes, then there isn’t always a clear career path for them. Although “past it” in the world of competing these are people who are still in their prime but often feel lost, lacking an identity and purpose now that they’re out of the adrenaline-fuelled limelight.


Then there are the physiological effects from reduced levels of exercise and new lifestyle patterns that can cause all sorts of issues too, and the social side of things - often when competing they are surrounded by people and are part of a team, when retired they can miss these close relationships that for so many years have been a massive part of their life. The fact that the cases of depression and suicides in retired athletes is above average reflects what is a challenging and sometimes devastating time for some.


So I’ll be admiring and cheering on all the athletes currently in Pyeongchang, in particular Elise Christie in her next two races. I really hope she gets a medal not (just) for Team GB but for all the hard work she and so many others have put in.