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Pushing Through the Wall

I have run several marathons over the years and I can tell you at exactly what point I hit the wall: 21.5 miles. If you’ve ever hit that proverbial wall, you know exactly what I’m talking about. There is simply a point in any physical activity (especially intense, strenuous ones) when your body stops performing at max capacity. It says: Hey you! I’m Tired. Do you hear me? We’re done. Sometimes, in my case, it also says: Time for a Margarita! But, alas, that could just be me.

In the case of a marathon, you do your best to push through that wall. When it comes to other sports and activities, you may not. After all, if you’re just out for a leisurely afternoon swim, hitting the wall is probably the point at which you say, “Okay, enough for today.” But, what happens when the physical activity you are performing is your livelihood? What happens when, for example, you’ve performed seven massages in a row and have two more to go? Well, like the marathoner, you simply have to push through the wall.

Now, I know that running a marathon isn’t exactly akin to a long day of clients on your massage table, but I think it illustrates an important point. There comes a point in any physical activity when your body needs more fuel to perform. It happens on a long run in the same way that it happens to the massage therapist at the end of the day. For the marathoner, this is a once-every-now-and-again event. For the massage therapist, this is a critical everyday issue. So, how exactly does one power through the wall? To help answer this question, I’ve polled and quizzed a group of long-time massage therapists. Here’s the crux of what I learned:

  • Stay away from sugary drinks. You’ll go sky high and then crash hard. Instead, drink lots of water. You recommend it to your clients; try it yourself. Other good options include green tea and herbal teas.

  • Try a protein bar when you’re starting to feel sluggish, but do your research before buying a case of them. Protein bars aren’t all as good for you as you might think. Some are laden with carbs, but comparatively few grams of protein. Others are as sugar dense as a can of soda. There are lots of great choices out there, but don’t just pick at random. Read the labels.

  • Pack fresh fruits like bananas (yeah potassium!), nuts, and small portions of protein (a few slices of lunch meat, for example) to snack on at work. You can hardly go wrong with any of these.

  • Make sure to eat a healthy breakfast and lunch. If you supply your body with nutritionally dense material early in the day, your body will thank you for it by performing better over the course of that day.

  • Focus. The wall, to a certain extent, is a mental one. Focus on the task at hand (literally, at hand!) and visualize its completion. Consider it a form of meditation.

The long and short of it is this: Your body is a tool of your trade. Treat it as such and provide it with as many healthy options as possible. If you do, you’ll not only hit the wall less frequently, but you’ll be able to push through it during the occasions when you have to. Good Luck!