A massage therapist can almost be considered an elite, hard-training athlete. Giving massages requires skill, strength and endurance, and is very hard on your body. Most practitioners will experience overuse injuries or pain syndromes at some time in their career.
Giving massage involves repetitive motions that can stress your musculoskeletal system beyond its limits. Smaller muscles and body parts, such as thumbs or hands, have a much lower threshold for overuse. When repetitive movement becomes too strenuous, inflammation and damage begin.
As a massage therapist, you need to treat your body like an athlete’s—which definitely includes healthy eating. Consuming more fruits and vegetables, or even transitioning to a plant-based diet, can increase energy, help fight inflammation and speed muscle recovery. A simple way to eat more plants is to drink juices.
Freshly squeezed juices—not commercial, bottled, processed juices—contain high amounts of nutrients, enzymes and other healthy substances. In one 32-ounce juice, you can consume the equivalent of several pounds of produce. Because fiber is extracted from plants during the juicing process, the nutrients are delivered into your bloodstream much faster. With them can come a surge of energy that will last many hours.
Juices also help reduce inflammation, which aids muscle recovery after exercise or injury. Almost all fruits and vegetables have anti-inflammatory components, and different combinations of juices create different benefits. One of the most anti-inflammatory juices is cherry juice, which can be compared to ingesting ibuprofen, a comparison supported by a 2001 study in Phytomedicine, “Cyclooxygenase inhibitory and antioxidant cyanidin glycosides in cherries and berries.”
Other fruits and vegetables with anti-inflammatory benefits are strawberries, cucumbers, tomatoes, leafy greens, sweet potatoes, ginger, turmeric root, pineapple and many more. (Combine carrots and apples for a super-tasty, inexpensive juice that also delivers high amounts of vitamin A, which supports eye, tooth, bone and skin health.)
Tips for making your own juice:
- Invest in a good-quality juicer. Juicers range from $50 to thousands of dollars. Lower-priced juicers don’t last as long and can be difficult to clean—you may get discouraged because it takes longer to clean the juicer than to make juice. Middle-range juicers, which cost $200 to $400, take only a few minutes to clean and produce high-quality juice.
- Whenever possible, drink freshly squeezed juice immediately, because it will lose nutrients due to oxidation the longer it sits. If you store it in a tightly closed container, filled to the top so there is as little air as possible, you can carry and drink your juice over the next 24 hours.
Freshly squeezed juices will nourish your hard-working body and help you feel better, recover faster, and sustain your energy throughout your workday.
Suzanna McGee (www.tennisfitnesslove.com), a former Ms. Natural Olympia bodybuilding champion, is a competitive tennis player, athletic trainer and author of The Athlete’s Simple Guide to a Plant-Based Lifestyle. She holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition, and is National Academy of Sports Medicine-certified as a performance enhancement and corrective exercise specialist.