Make the Most of Your Muscles: Recovery and rejuvenation are key elements of physical agility.

Vail Vitality Center Hot Tub

After a Sunday morning powder session on the mountain, nothing beats a hot soak in one of the Vitality Center’s outdoor tubs. Physical relaxation and recovery goes one step beyond sinking your muscles into the Jacuzzi, however, and a deep-tissue massage treatment in the spa will give your body the bounce-back it needs and the rejuvenation it deserves.

The Essentials of Recovery

The deep-tissue work assists with chronic pain or persistent muscles tension — symptoms that are inevitable for active individuals, especially amidst all of Vail’s outdoor play.

Felix Istomin is a licensed massage therapist at the Vitality Center Spa. He has been doing bodywork at the spa for nearly two decades, specializing in sports medical massage. He says his treatments are more medically oriented than indulgent, although my post-ski treatment was nothing short of euphoric.

A pre-massage soak is a good thing to do, Felix says, so that your body is warm and ready at the start of your treatment. The deep-tissue work starts by breaking up the fascia in the body, which is a thin sheath of fibrous tissue that encloses muscles and organs. Fascia creates physical blockages, tightness and sometimes pain in the body if it is not worked out consistently.

Your Body at Altitude

In the process of opening up these areas of physical resistance, a deep-tissue massage relieved muscles of oxygen deprivation — a common block of muscle recovery in high-altitude areas, such as Vail.

Felix explains how a healthy body is good at recovery on its own, but at altitude, a body that is usually 95 percent efficient on its own becomes much less efficient, simply because there is less oxygen to fuel the body, to get to the muscles, for recovery.

“Massage helps homeostasis for recovery with overworked muscles suffering from hypoxia,” he says.

Hypoxia is this common condition experience at mountain altitudes, when the body or a region of the body is deprived of adequate oxygen supply.

Vitality on Your Vacation

Even on more relaxing days or fully rejuvenating vacations, your body can be oxygen deprived and contain stagnant energy. Never underestimate the benefits of massage for improvement of circulation, and therefore, overall heart health.

A food critic in New York once told Felix that if it weren’t for the consistent massage work they did, he wouldn’t still be living through all the heart-clogging calories. Massage aids in vasodilation, explains Felix, which is the widening of blood vessels.

Even if your vacation includes some indulgent consumption (as it should in moderation), keep the artery enemies to a minimum, especially on the same day that you get your massage.

“Stay away from alcohol, caffeine and meat products as they are hard to metabolize,” says Felix. “Load up on water, salt, fiber and foods that alkalize.”

Here’s personal recommendation for eating-out on the lighter side: Terra Bistro’s quinoa cups — house-sprouted and heart healthy (especially with the sauce on the side).

Contact the Vitality Center at 970-476-7960 to set up a spa appointment, or visit www.vailvitalitycenter.com for more information.

The Vail Athletic Club in the Vitality Center also offers a Stretch & Ready class on every morning during the week, and a Stretching & Recover class on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. See the club’s schedule for more details: www.vailvitalitycenter.com/schedule.html.