A – ROD, Now that is the rub !

Hold onto your hat, and tighten your literary seat belt, because this is going to be a circuitous and bumpy ride on the way to making a point I have made earlier in another effort.

I remember in the dark and distant past of my youth, Sherlock Holmes ( Basil Rathborne ), Arthur Connan Doyle’s famously brilliant  detective,  saying to Dr Watson ( Nigel Bruce ?) his partner and aide in crime solving,….. at a time when the mystery of the case was starting to come unraveled and revealed, as a vital clue was discovered, “Ah Watson, that is the rub”.

Steve Simmons had asked me to come to the Deca-Nations meet in Angers, France, the last week in August this summer, to help him and Terry Crawford with the U.S. team in that meet. The meet has been hosted for the past 10 years by the French track and field federation and consists of several countries, U.S. Russia, France, Japan, sometimes Germany, Italy, and others, competing generally in the 10 events that comprise the decathlon. It is a very spirited meet and the competition, if not fierce, is most certainly seriously intense, with a great deal of nationalistic pride involved on all sides.

When I got my ticket from the USATF travel people, my itinerary had me flying from Orlando, Florida, west  to Cincinnati, Ohio and from Cincinnati, east, on to Paris, and from Paris, a two hour train ride to Angers. The idea of flying back west and then getting on a plane to retrace my travel back east did not really bother me because it meant when I figured in the round trip extra miles, I was going to get more than 1500-2000 extra miles on my frequent flyer account with Delta,…. than if I were to fly directly north and east from Orlando to Paris. However, since the itinerary was going to involve a lot more travel time than usual, and in order to make the most of this, I needed to find some thick reading material in the airport bookstore. I chose three books for their size and subject matter: #1 was John Le Carre’s A MOST WANTED MAN. I have been a Le Carre fan for many years and pride myself on having read all of his 21 books, despite the fact that they are slow and ponderous at times,…and rarely juicy. The fact that the book had just been turned into a film with Philip Seymour Hoffman, merely made it more attractive. Book #2 was Philip Kerr’s PRAGUE FATALE and I try and read everything I can get my hands on regarding prominent Nazis. This book is a detective story regarding a murder at S.S. General Reinhard Heydrich ‘s home just before he himself was assassinated in Bohemia during World War II. He was the #2 man in the hated and feared Gestapo and after this death the Germans in retaliation totally wiped out and killed everyone in a village nearby the scene of his assassination.  Book #3 in this strange trilogy of fat books was BLOOD SPORT by Tim Elfrink and Gus Garcia-Roberts. It centers around A-Rod( Alex Rodriguez) and his drug issues and allegations that ultimately resulted in his being suspended from major league baseball for a year because of his use of banned substances. A-Rod was the highest paid player baseball with a 10 year contract from the New York Yankees that paid him 27 million dollars a year.

The book itself is 460 pages long, however, page #69 is crimped several times to make for easy and immediate access to it, and the pages that immediately follow it, because it is those pages that help to make the case I tried to make in a previous blog,… and the case I want to strengthen and re-enforce now. Right after that particular blog, about 18 months or so ago, LaShawn Merritt called me and asked:

Is it true you think that massage therapy is a mistake ?

Yeah, I think there are times when massage therapy is the very last thing you guys should be getting on a regular basis.

Really ? You really think that ?

Yeah I REALLY think that ?

Mind telling me why ?

Because I think that getting massaged too often in the training and conditioning phase of your training can be counter productive to getting the very most out of the training being done.

You are serious about this ?

Will aids kill you ?

Can you explain your reasons a little more ?

Yeah ! When you are in the conditioning and heavy training cycle of your preparation, the stress and micro-tears this produces, along with the waste products and toxins the muscles produce,…….stimulate the Central Nervous System (CNS) to actively get busy to address and overcome the stress, toxins and damage the hard training does to your body and mind. The CNS, given an opportunity, addresses and cleans up the problems,… and rehabs and regenerates tissues and systems  to an even higher level of fitness and preparation than previous. This is called overcompensation and is the basis and genesis of how we get fitter. When massage gets rid of these elements, the CNS is less stimulated and activated to do its  job and natural function. This slows down the accumulation of the benefits of vigorous training. If there is no element and sense of urgency within body and CNS to respond to the elevated discomfort and toxins and waste products levels produced during vigorous training, then the whole overcompensation process is weakened and less active. This results in us taking longer to get fit,… and perhaps not as fit as we would have been had we not allowed massage therapy to get in the way of nature’s process.

I think I understand it. But probably not going to do it.

No problem.

On the bottom of page 69 BLOOD SPORT reports that in 2008, “Rodriguez wanted to use clomiphene citrate, a drug designed to increase fertility in women. Men who suffer hypogonadism( shrinking of gonads )- that is, a dearth of (natural) testosterone- use it to block estrogen in their bodies. The parenthesis are mine. The point here is, after you have introduced a sufficient amount of substitute substance or activity, the body cuts down on the natural process it performs to generate the same substance or effect. If you go over, as many do, the natural process can shut down all together and in order to get the body to start its natural processes again, there is a need for a jump start. What I am suggesting here is that A-Rod might have over juiced to the point that his natural processes shut down on him and he had to reverse the negative reaction of natural female phenomenon occurring in the absence of sufficient natural male chemistry.

I use the above to more graphically make my case in general that when we interfere with natural occurring processes, we also interfere with the production and results of what the natural occurring process produces. If we introduce large amounts of creatine into the body, then the body reduces the amount of natural occurring creatine it produces. If we introduce large amounts of human growth hormone into the body, then the body reduces the amount it naturally produces. If we introduce large amounts of testosterone, then we reduce the amount of testosterone the body naturally produces.

If athletes during their hard training regimen, allow massage therapists to rub out and massage all the irritants and CNS stimulation discomfort and toxins, then they will reduce the benefits of doing the rigorous activity in the first place. The soreness and stiffness is a stimulus to the CNS to get busy and fix what is broke,……and fix it to an even higher level of strength and fitness than before. As this process plays itself out in a repeated cycle of ever increasing elevated level of strength and fitness, the body will rehab and regenerate tissues to ever higher levels,…thus allowing greater and greater levels of stress and stress adaptation. Anything that mitigates against this natural process, causes reduction in what the body naturally does and produces. The reduction reduces efficiency and effectiveness of the process.

The very large and meaningful caveat and caution here is the fact that, once an athlete has reached a very high level of fitness and is peaked, then massage can be very helpful in maintaining that high level of fitness if massage is prudently applied and employed. At this stage we are not as centered on additional fitness, as we are on a good blood flow and general increase in relaxation and recovery. So massage can be very beneficial and desirable,…. even necessary.

Very few college track and field athletes have massage as a regular part of their training regimen. Yet many of the very best are called upon to perform at a high level several times a weekend, for upwards of 20 or more weekends in a typical collegiate competitive year. Having been without massage for a protracted period of time, they can not wait to enjoy it after they have left college and become “pro”. It feels good and the very fact that they can afford to  get it as often as they would like, allows them to see it as one of the perks and privileges of being “pro”. The result is that some abuse the practice and retard and retrograde the natural processes associated with “getting in shape” during their fitness enhancing and conditioning phase of training. And, as Shirlock Holmes would say, ” Watson,  that is the rub !”.


Brooks T. Johnson

( 407 ) 758 – 0755

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