I’ve been a CMT for over a year now and I can tell you one thing. It’s the best move I ever made. Literally. Massage therapy for the average body is one thing, but for the athlete’s body that is constantly taking a physical beating it can be nothing short of essential.
As human beings we generally have the same types of aches and pains. These are so much more evident in your athlete of today that even in animals -Barbaro being a perfect example- it is clear that the body can only be pushed so far without having repercussions at some point.
Now, you have your everyday massage, your ‘Swedish’ your ‘relaxation’ massage…and while I am certainly not taking away from these modalities because they do have their purpose- they are not the same and do not have the same affect as a really good sports massage which stretches you out and goes deeper than a Swedish massage. I have been told by several athletes that I have worked with how difficult it is to find a good sports massage therapist in Las Vegas, and I can believe it. When you are talking about muscles that are at their peak, blood flow that is twice or three times what the average person is, it takes a special therapist to know how to get into the body in order to get the best response and the best massage for the client on your table.
Origins and attachments are something that a massage student is taught in school but most do not put it together until some time after you have gotten out of said school and had the chance to catch your breath. For a therapist working on an athlete these origins and attachments are especially important because these are where the muscles begin and where they end. They are then tied in with ligaments and tendons which can pull and stretch and even snap if an athlete is over fatigued and the therapist is not paying attention. Are you warming up the athlete for a competition or are you doing a post massage to ease tense and testy muscles?
For an athlete to get the best out of his vehicle, that being his or her body, regular ‘maintenance’ massage is essential. This is done perhaps once a week and helps the athlete to stay in peak condition. Our body is like a marionette…if one side is pulling the other side is compensating somehow and this can show up while the athlete is competing which makes their job difficult and in some cases impossible. Cramps can happen, and while the mind has the ability to overcome almost anything, a bad cramp can put an athlete at a serious disadvantage during a game.
Thankfully times have changed and massage therapy is now an accepted part of the sports world. I worked on a football great from the 1970’s once whose body was like a tile floor. He commented one day that during his time they never had therapists and they certainly would never have had a female therapist. He then asked me what I thought of that. I proceeded to show him what I thought of that-his piriformis has never been the same – and he has been having me work on him ever since. Now instead of tile floor gluteus muscles, he has hardwood. That is a slight, slight improvement. As far as the female part, he never said another word about it. I think it was because I asked him to explain the ‘male butt patting’ that made him think twice about female therapists. Sometimes strength comes in different shapes and forms. Just ask the athletes. Right, guys?