For weekend warriors, air massage is a nice touch

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Janet Schmidt, owner of Blue Bicycle, demonstrates the ease of the leg compression system. Photo by Kathy Feist

Blue Bicycle offers Relaxing Air Compression Massages

By Marie Titcomb

Thigh-high compression cuffs that zip up the inside of your legs can provide a circulation boost for cyclists, runners and exercise enthusiasts after intense workouts. The device is especially popular for after-sport recovery among famous NBA and Olympic athletes. It’s also gaining a reputation as a relaxing massage for individuals who spend a lot of time on their feet, such as servers and cashiers.

Air Relax is one of three major name brands that manufacture these compression massage systems, and it’s now available at Blue Bicycle Health and Fitness in the Red Bridge Shopping Center. The goal is to help blood flow through the muscles, aid the process of the lymph system by pushing lymph fluid back up to the heart, and in certain cases, reduce swelling where applied.

Here’s how it works: The pants-like cuffs are hooked to an air compressor via hoses that run into the fabric. Each leg consists of four cuffs—the foot, the calf, the knee and the thigh. During a typical 15 to 30-minute session, the cuffs are filled with air from the compressor, gently squeezing the legs in a similar fashion to a blood-pressure cuff, though not necessarily as tight. The wearer reclines on a flat surface, legs slightly elevated. After each cuff inflates, it slowly deflates and recompresses moments later to essentially cause the blood to wake up and circulate back to the heart more smoothly.

“There are four levels of intensity for this system, but we rarely use the fourth, the highest one, because most people find it uncomfortable,” explains Janet Schmidt, owner of Blue Bicycle. “Ultimately, though, the level of intensity is determined by individual preference and can be customized to each person.”

The systematic style of the massage is more advantageous in certain cases than a traditional massage because of the pressure that’s applied to the legs. While a typical massage may relax the muscles, a compression massage serves as both a muscle relaxer and booster of internal systems all at once. This relaxing experience has been known to reduce medically unexplained swelling in parts of the body. And while Blue Bicycle currently only offers leg compression, Schmidt says she would like to add arm compression to her services in the future.

Overall, it’s an enjoyable experience that leaves you feeling refreshed and limber. Due to the nature of the technology and its recent appearance on the fitness stage, it’s recommended that you get the consent of your doctor before using the system, and those with osteoporosis, DVT, blood clots, acute pulmonary edema, pulmonary embolism or women who are pregnant are cautioned against all usage.

Compression massage is available by appointment to the public at a rate of $20 for 15 minutes or $30 for 30 minutes, with non-club members paying an additional fee. Wear comfortable pants so your legs are fully covered during the session, and if you mention this article, Schmidt will give you a $5 discount.

To schedule an Air Relax session call 816-943-8348 or visit bluebikefitness.com.

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