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Interview with Don Butzner

Written by Roger White on . Posted in Blog

Don Holley Aries 2

Don, with Holley DeShaw and Aries Merritt

In this part of the interview series, sports massage expert Don Butnzer takes some time to answer questions. As you will read, Don has a unique background in therapy treating some of the world’s best track and field athletes, but he also was part of the team of people who helps organizes therapy at track meets such as the Prefontaine Classic and the 2012 Olympic Trials.

Don has vast experience working in championship environments, including

  • 2003-2014 Prefontaine Classic (Massage Team Captain from 2008-2014)
  • 2007-2008 Road To Eugene High Performance Meet
  • 2008 USATF Olympic Trials
  • 2009 and 2011 USATF Outdoor National Championships Massage Team Captain
  • 2009 IAAF World Championships
  • 2012 USATF Olympic Trials Massage Team Captain
  • 2013 Jamaican Track and Field National Championships

Don, your have quite the resume of working big meets. What makes a therapist sought out? 

I think sports therapists get repeatedly sought out for two main reasons. Of course first and foremost, a therapist would be sought out for quality work, but another very important factor is the therapist's ability to build a solid relationship with athletes. Those appropriate professional, yet also personal, relationships have played a large role in athletes seeking continued care from me and some of my colleagues in the sports massage world.

In what ways are you different from other therapists, and who have been some of your teachers?

I consider myself very fortunate to have had some exceptional teachers and mentors along the way. This started clear back in massage school with my sports massage teacher, Jon Hart. He focused on structural balancing and Muscle Energy Techniques, which set an amazing foundation for me. After that, I sought out instructors and classes that also focused on structural balancing and neuromuscular techniques. From there I sought a progression that had a dynamic focus - basically putting the body in motion effectively for enhanced performance, but still concentrating on structural balance.

I also feel blessed that my hands really tune in to fascial slings and the body's tensegrity. I think lots of my soft tissue work enhances the body's ability to load and fire in a manner that can improve performance.

I also use kinesiology taping for both balance and power.

You’ve done sports massage work for a while.  Thinking back to your early days and comparing to now, what were some things you did back then that you would do differently now?

I had a moment early in my sports massage career that absolutely stands out as a real learning opportunity. I was working on an Olympic 1500M runner and my mentor at the time was walking by and I asked him if what I was doing was correct and the right pace. Here's the thing with that: if I wasn't confident in what I was doing, I shouldn't be doing it - especially pre-event with an athlete of that caliber. Additionally, by asking in front of the athlete, I surely leave some doubt in the mind of the athlete. That makes me cringe now! I always tell new therapists on my teams to be confident! Those athletes need to focus on their upcoming competition and don't need doubts or worry creeping in to their mindset. If you aren't confident in what you're doing there, direct them to a therapist who has the right experience.

Don and Lolo

Don doing treatment on Lolo Jones

What are some of your key principles you use in treatments?

Treatments are geared for the condition the athlete is in, but also for where the athlete is at in training or competition, which always needs to be considered. Pre-event, I look to make sure myofascia feels clean and ready to perform and that the nervous system is on board and ready to perform at the highest possible level. Inter-event is all about lymphatics and a gentle focus on cleaning up adhesions. Post-event offers a lot more freedom to work at flushing out the tissues, realigning structural imbalances that may have occurred as a result of the event, clearing adhesions in the soft tissues, and general deep tissue work as appropriate. We're looking to enhance recovery.

What type of assessments or exams do you do at the start of your sessions, and how does this change when you are preparing athletes in a race environment?

Assessments and exams depend on the athlete's needs, so they vary. Commonly I will do an assessment of structural balance, both static and dynamic, and then palpate muscle and fascial health. Sometimes in a race environment I may not have the luxury of a thorough exam or assessment, so the athlete’s initial report will dictate how we proceed. The assessment will be quick and focused just on the complaint. Hopefully, though, in an elite race environment the athlete is healthy and basically ready to compete - otherwise we really have bigger problems anyway!

How do you measure effectiveness of a session?

Effectiveness is measured by how well we obtain the treatment goals initially discussed. Frequently in a sports massage setting, you may see an athlete only once and not have the opportunity for a follow-up. In this case your feedback may be just what the athlete tells you right when they get up off your table. This reinforces how important good communication is from the very start.

One piece of advice I would give new sports massage therapists when it comes to this topic, is that you are not competing for the athlete. You can't run the race for them - so a race that doesn't go super successfully may be due to many factors. The massage isn't the only factor. Likewise, an athlete who gives a stellar performance has put a lot of training in and the massages leading up to the event probably were not the main factor in the success. Keep your understanding of your role accurate. We do better when we work to help the athlete the very best we can, and keep our egos at bay.

Don working with Nickel Ashmeade

Don working with Nickel Ashmeade

What do you feel is the biggest thing the athletes want and or expect from a therapy session?

Of course the athlete wants the session to optimize performance. That's a given. But athletes also really want the therapist to listen to them and treat accordingly. I've spoken with a lot of athletes who have shared frustration that the therapist just seemed to go through a routine and didn't spend much time focusing on the issue the athlete initially reported.

You’ve worked at many championship events. How much time do you typically spend on athletes?  Given there might be various scenarios, can you run through a quick example of a few to get a sense for what might happen?

The amount of time I have with athletes totally varies at these events. Sometimes, when we get slammed, the sessions may have to be quick - like 20 minutes or less. Whenever possible, I try to give the athlete however much time they need for our treatment goals. I've spent three hours in a post-event session with an athlete.

A newer therapist may not spend quite as much time on an athlete if they haven't already built a relationship.

If the session is a couple days before the competition, which is a real possibility for these major elite events because we start treatments several days before competition starts, the sessions will likely be longer. We might treat for minor dysfunctions or imbalances and spend an hour or more on treatment and then spend some time developing an integration plan and continued care plan that would take us all the way through the event.

If the session is pre-event, like during the athlete's warm-up, it may be a very quick check of soft-tissues that would take 5 or 10 minutes. I may also do this very dynamic stretching routine as part of the athlete's warm-up that takes about 5 to 7 minutes.

So far in the interviews I’ve done, a common theme has been that each therapist is known for their own style of work.  Athletes/agents/coaches seek them out because they trust and know how that therapist works.  What would you say you are known for?

I'm definitely known for that dynamic stretching routine I just mentioned. I do this with sprinters and hurdlers that I've developed relationships with and that have practiced this routine with me. Some of the feedback I've also heard is that I work at appropriate depths for the timing of the treatment and that I'm thorough, so the athletes have confidence in the work. I personally think that having a good feel for fascial slings is a real gift in the sports massage realm for me.

Don and Muna Lee

Don and Muna Lee

You worked a lot with Muna Lee.  Being you two lived far apart, how often would you work with her? 

Muna is one of my all-time favorite athletes I've had the pleasure of working with. At this point, I consider her a family friend! The fact that we did live so far apart limited our chances to keep a consistent treatment routine going, but we found ways to make it work. She was very good at updating me on any issues that came up. We had lots of phone consults. Also, before big events, we would try to coordinate a week or two together leading up to the event. Occasionally, she would stay at my house or I would travel to her and we could get a lot of focused work done to have her prepped for the competition. Then we would travel to the event site and keep the work going through the competition.

 

You traveled to races with her quite a bit.  Would you mind taking us through what a few days might look like leading up to a major championship?

My favorite event with her was probably the 2008 Olympic Trials. We got to begin work nearly two weeks before the event. This was going to be a tough competition for her because she was running both the 100 and 200. We focused on orthopedic issues consistently until 3 days before the competition rounds started. What was great about this was that it was a team effort with several people. Two of the best bodyworkers I've ever worked with, Dr. Rich Gorman, who is a sports chiropractor, and Robyn Pester, who very well could be the best PT in the world and is a kinetic chain genius, worked with us in these days leading up to the competition. By event time, Muna was dang near perfect!

In the couple days before competition, we began to gear sessions to mirror what we would do at the event. We would go through our pre-event routine before her practices so that we would have them down so well that we wouldn't even need to talk to go through it on competition day. This would allow her to just mentally focus with confidence right before she competed. Unless she needed to let me know something didn't feel perfect, we just did our pre-event routine with just eye contact and hand taps when I needed her to fire a muscle. Obviously, that's not a typical sports massage situation, but when you have the ability to really work full time with an athlete, those types of relationships can be developed.

After her practices on those couple days before the competition, I would do a quick check of the health of the tissues to make sure everything still felt clean. In the evenings, I would do a quick, light massage again to see that things still felt smooth - checking to make sure there was no congestion in the tissues and that I didn't feel any myofascial adhesions.

The other thing that happened during this time leading up to the competition was the creation of a game plan to make sure things ran smoothly with her coach's needs during the event. There are things the coach needs from her at specific times, and I needed to make sure I didn't interfere with that. Inter-event concerns, such as nutrition and recovery, especially on days with multiple heats, had to be considered. This may not be something a newer therapist may even know to consider.

Of course, things rarely go as planned once competition starts and you have to be ready to adjust on the fly. In Muna's case at these trials, there were definitely some orthopedic issues that arose as a result of the grueling competition schedule she had. We stayed strong in our communication as a team and did some amazing work to help get her through and qualified for the Olympics in both events! It was truly a team effort.

What advice would you give to a younger sports massage therapist who is starting out?

Volunteer at some local community sports events and get your hands on athletes. If you can, build relationships with local athletes and begin to work with them in all phases of training and competition.

You definitely need to learn the sport you are working with. It is crucial to understand a sport's demands on the athlete.

And of course, take as many classes as you can, and get yourself around the experts in the field.

I’d like to focus a little bit on your work organizing therapy at meets. You have done a lot with USATF coordinating medical coverage at major events, like the Olympic Trials in Eugene in 2012. How many people are on this team and in what fields?

I'm glad you are asking about the administrative side of this, because it is an important component of sports massage. I don't think many therapists know how much behind-the-scenes effort goes into organizing and performing events like these. It's a lot of work! For the 2012 Trials, I had over 50 volunteer therapists. I really tried to recruit the best sports massage therapists I could hunt down. We made sure we had a variety of specialties, including MET and ART experts, CKTPs, FAT Tool experts, and others. We wanted to make sure we could accommodate nearly any athlete request that may come in.

What criteria are used for selecting these individuals?

The therapists at Trials were a very experienced group. They needed to have solid sports massage training and experience. A few therapists had a little less experience and we made sure we placed them in roles that had good support around them so they could refer appropriately. For example, many of the therapists did not have extensive training in kinesiology taping, so we made sure at least one person on each shift was proficient so taping could be utilized.

How does your team of therapists work with athletes at these types of events, compared to athletes who have their own therapists who are given credentials?

At the Trials, we had massage treatments available at two sites, the competition venue and the athlete hotel. We would offer treatments at specific times at each venue and any competing athlete was able to get work from our team at these sites. Athletes who bring their own therapist to this event had to obtain a credential for their therapist if they wanted to have them in the competition venue. There, we had a separate area available for those personal therapists to set up.

Taking this further, given you have so many chiropractors and so many massage therapists, how are athletes assigned to therapists?  Is there a specific process? Or as simple as a “next in line” type arrangement?

When an athlete would come to us for treatment, if they didn't request a specific therapist, then they would be taken to a therapist who was free at the time. First come, first served. We had an intake area that handled athlete flow, which helped a lot. As you can imagine, with an event as big as the Olympic Trials, we were very busy, so there wasn't a lot of down time, except early in the morning. We tried to staff a large enough team all the time so that there wasn't much wait time for an athlete to be seen. Now, athletes requesting specific therapists would sometimes have to wait until that particular therapist was free and that any athlete waiting longer than them was seen first if their requested therapist became available.

Sometimes a particular therapist and chiropractor will develop a rapport and be working with an athlete as a team, in which case we just let them handle the athlete as they need to.

As a side note worth mentioning, we've found that two massage therapists for each chiropractor is a good rule of thumb for practitioner ratio.

Are there any events coming up soon you might be found at?  Are you teaching any courses? Working any upcoming meets?

With this year not having a World Championships, it is a slower year for me. I have some local events I will be involved with, but that's about it for sports massage. I am talking with a couple athletes about traveling with them as personal medical for 2015 for Worlds and on into the Rio Olympics and then 2017 Worlds. Nothing definite yet.

As far as classes go, I suspect that Andy Miller, who you interviewed a couple weeks ago, and I may offer some FAT Tool training classes. They're a great tool for any sports massage therapist to consider.

Is there a website where people can reach you?

You can find me at www.facebook.com/don.butzner

Don, thank you so much for taking the time to answer some questions. The information shared is a gold mine! All the best to you!

What’s with all the interviews? (interview intermission)

Written by Roger White on . Posted in Blog

In the past few weeks I’ve been able to post Q & A I’ve had with several sports massage therapists who have their unique background and experiences. I have to thank Terrel Hale, Holley DeShaw, Kiplimo Chemirmir, Andy Miller, and Jerod Carnahan for their time and openness to my questions, which aren’t exactly easy to answer. I am so grateful for their contribution. In the coming weeks, I plan on posting more Q & A from therapists of different perspectives. Each of the contributors are very busy, and I can’t thank them enough for taking me up on this!!

You see, it all started when I was checking my Twitter feed and saw Terrel Hale’s tweets about his experience working at this year’s Nike Prefontaine Classic. I was curious what it was like at these types of races. Much of the behind the scenes work goes unrecognized except to the athlete, the coach and the athlete’s agent. So in one part, the interviews are ways to recognize the therapist’s great efforts and find out what it’s like behind the scenes from their experiences.

Eugene Hostel

Eugene Hostel

Flash back to June 2012, Eugene, Oregon. It’s the USA Track and Field Olympic Trials. A Father’s Day, Christmas, Birthday, Father’s Day,Christmas and Birthday present! The idea came when my friend Megan said she bought tickets for her dad and herself. It was a great idea and trip of a lifetime, I’m glad I took. I looked at the schedule of events and realized I would be gone nearly 16 hours each day, so I decided to stay in the hostel in Eugene (did you know there was a hostel in Eugene??) for $20 a night.

 

 

Security was high near the warm-up track

Security was high near the warm-up track

Day one of the Trials came and I walked the two miles or so from the hostel to Hayward Field. Being a track fan, I was excited as it was my first time attending a big track meet (not including the big meets I’ve been at coaching my high school teams), and also being able to be inside the famous Historic Hayward Field. Some of my coaching friends always talk about how the warm-up track area is often the best place to be around, so I made my way there first thing. The area was very secured and fenced off with a green cover that if looking through at just the right angles, you could see through. After searching through the fence, it was clear no athletes had arrived yet. I had made it there before most of the athletes! I guess I was a bit excited. I hung out around the fence and kept getting odd stares from security, which eventually approached me thinking I might be a terrorist of something. Athletes eventually arrived being driving by huge busses covered in Nike logos, transporting them from hotels to the warm-up track entrance. Along with the athletes were their coaches, agents, and therapists for those who had someone they arranged a credential for. Inside the warm-up area was the therapy tent area which was covered, and not much could be seen from the available angles I had. Being a massage therapist, this was a bummer to me, as I’d loved to have seen some of the work being done.

My seats for the trials

My seats for the trials

This continued for the next few days where I would arrive early, then make way to the stadium to watch the day’s events. The overall Trials experience was incredible and as I flew home, I was very motivated to become an even better therapist.

I got into therapy when I was doing speed, strength and conditioning training for athletes. Athletes began coming to me for things like muscle pulls and post physical therapy bridge type programs and likely could benefit from massage work. At this time, I was not the type of person to massage even my girlfriend at the time. I reached out to my coaching mentor Charlie Francis, who in his coaching days did a lot of therapy on his sprinters, often daily. What better person to learn from than a guy who did work with sprinters near daily?

I immediately started doing work on the athletes but had to use the floor of my facility on exercise mats, since I didn’t have a table yet. Eventually, after many agonizing days and killing my knees and back, I bought a table on Craigslist, and began “therapy Fridays” for the athletes I was training. They would do their recovery tempo runs and then get treatment for about 30 minutes no various areas that needed attention.

My "office" at weekend meets

My "office" at weekend meets

As I began coaching track, it was frustrating see the issues the runners were having. I nervously brought my table to a meet. I mean, no other schools had this. Was this even legal? Was I going to get in trouble? (I’m quite to worrier about things, sometimes afraid to take risks). It seemed to be ok, so I continued this, every weekend meet! Athletes in need would get treatment on weekend meets for the rest of the season. Not ideal to me, but it was the best chance where both the athlete and myself had time to do this. That year at state finals, I’m certain we were the only school with a massage table at their team tent! (and for the next 2 years as well. The streak was broken this year when the qualifiers I drove brought too many bags to fit in my car, and my Astra-Lite table had to sit at home to make room).

In the past few years in my massage practice, I’ve had the incredible opportunity to do treatments on some talented collegiate and professional athletes. Each of them inspires me to be the best there is, because they are striving for the same thing in their events. I get so excited helping athletes feel incredible after or being able to resolve their issues. It’s a huge adrenaline rush for me. Working with high level athletes who often train hours each day, it’s certain there will be work that needs to be done on them. I absolutely hate, (yes, hate!) when I can’t resolve an issue presented to me. In psychological terms, I often internalize their injuries. To cope with this, I usually go home and dig through my library of resources to see if I missed something so that next time I would be prepared for it. With each treatment and each athlete I treat, I become a better therapist, even in treatments that aren’t as successful as I would like them to be.

I spend countless hours at night reading, re-watching lectures and demonstrations, and reviewing basics as I find it’s easy to get in your routine and realize I stop doing things I used to do! I consult with my mentors as often as they will respond to my excessive questioning, while being as respectful as possible. (Can you tell I’m passionate?)

I’ve spent seven years doing therapy and have come a long way since then. I know I can be better at what I do, and I will get better! There is still a lot I don’t know, which is why I am asking the questions I have. But each day I promise myself to be the best I’m capable of with what I currently know, and put into practice what I have learned from others.

So far I hope you have enjoyed reading the interviews. If I can learn how to do audio interviews, which might be something I do if there is enough interest. Check Facebook and Twitter for updates on future interviews coming soon. I plan to get views from performance chiropractors and also from high level athletes. I really feel this is going to be exciting stuff.

 

Inside the World Athletics Center- Interview with Therapist Jerod Carnahan

Written by Roger White on . Posted in Blog

So far in my interview series, I’ve been able to hear from therapists who work major events like the world championships and Olympics, and work major meets, like the Diamond League meets. In this interview, I was able to spend some time asking World Athletics Center therapist Jerod Carnahan questions about the daily Performance Therapy athletes receive. I was curious what types of things take place during treatments daily, and sometimes more than once a day, as you will see!

For those who don’t know about the WAC, it’s located in Phoenix, Arizona and provides training and coaching for athletes and coaches education. It’s a great opportunity for athletes to bridge their collegiate and professional careers to allow development to compete at the highest level, being coached by some of track’s best coaches. Part of their program involves internships and apprenticeships.

This post is about Performance Therapy (also called track side therapy).  For an overview of Performance Therapy, you can also check out this from WAC coach Stuart McMillan to get a better idea of what the theme of this interview is about.

Part 1:

http://www.mcmillanspeed.com/2012/06/functional-movement-can-be-defined-as.html

Part 2:

http://www.mcmillanspeed.com/2013/01/on-performance-therapy.html

 Now, on to the interview!

Jerod, you came to work at WAC doing massage and other manual therapies.  What made you decide to come to WAC?Jerod

I got into massage to work with athletes - that's what I've wanted to do for some time. I heard about the opportunity to work with WAC from a former massage instructor of mine Patrick Ward who knew some coaches from WAC, and heard that they were looking for some new therapists that would like to come out and volunteer and I jumped at the opportunity. It then led to an internship.

One of the unique advantages WAC offers is the amount of therapy athletes receive.  Some call it track-side therapy, or as Stu McMillan calls it, Performance Therapy. Can you explain how this process worked at WAC?

The athletes at WAC have the opportunity to receive Performance Therapy pre-, during- and post-practice, as well as getting deeper tissue massages - or as the athletes like to call it ‘a flush’ post-track practice or lifting session. The amount and duration of therapy is very athlete-driven depending on their needs and what their workouts consist of day-to-day. However, any therapy provided during the athlete’s practice usually is no longer then 10-15 minutes so that he or she doesn't cool down too much. The athlete’s practice can also be altered depending on what is found during the therapy session or through the athlete’s feedback

In your process of doing checks, do you prefer to start from the feet working up? Head down? Or pelvis outwards?

I usually start my sessions with the athlete standing, doing a standing posterior pelvic and sacral test. Once I have assessed how the pelvis is sitting, I then start the athlete face down and check the leg length by checking the medial malleoli to see if what I found in the first test translates to the table. I then start my soft tissue work based on what I found in my tests.

Are there any things that are overlooked in therapy for track and field athletes?

Not that I have noticed. However I have only been with WAC for 9 months and this is my first taste of the Track & Field environment. The only thing I have really noticed is that at some track meets there aren't always great areas to set up a table or have good warm-up areas!

Jerod it’s interesting you mention this! In a prior interview, Holley DeShaw mentioned something similar in commenting on some odd places she has done treatments!

koreans with jerodAt WAC, you worked with athletes in various events.  Can you talk about some of the athlete-therapist communications that take place?

If it is a new athlete that I haven't worked with before, then I will talk to them about what their event is, how long they have been doing it, and what their history is with therapy. Once I have a good understanding of what their body goes through on a daily basis I can better understand how to treat them. If I am working with an athlete on a consistent basis I will always ask them how they're feeling compared to the day before or the week before depending on how long it's been since I've seen them. Then I will ask them what they have that day so that we can make a more specific treatment plan.

I’ve seen photos of you working and you are literally on the side of the track. How do you measure the effectiveness of a treatment?

I measure the effectiveness by first the athlete’s feedback from when they get off the table until they are done for the day. I also see the effectiveness from watching the athlete and seeing how their body is moving.  I also, of course, rely a lot on Dan Pfaff and Stu McMillian’s feedback to see how the athletes are performing.  Neither one of them is scared to let me know if I haven’t done enough!

What advice would you give to a therapist who might start doing performance therapy at event sites?

I would find a team or school that will be willing to let you come out and volunteer and give your time to learn from them. Find a mentor that you that is willing to give you their time if possible.

For a therapist coming to WAC to go through the training and experience you have, what advice would you give them? What things should they expect that they might not expect before getting there? 

Expect to be ‘thrown into the deep end’ - meaning be ready to work and answer questions. Know your anatomy and kinesiology, and constantly read whatever you can get your hands on. Be willing to give up your free time - it’s definitely worth it to get to work with some of the greatest coaches and therapists you'll find anywhere.

Also don't hesitate to ask any questions about therapy or coaching. Everyone at WAC is always happy to answer any questions. The best advice I could give to anyone coming to WAC is just to try to be better then you were yesterday.

Where can people find more information on you and the WAC?

The website is www.WorldAthleticsCenter.com. There is also a Facebook page :https://www.facebook.com/worldathleticscenter and a Twitter account @Worldathleticsc. I also have a Twitter account @jcarnahanlmt

Jerod, thanks so much for taking time to share your experiences at the World Athletics Center. It was great to hear about some of the behind the scenes things with therapists who work with athletes on a daily basis. Keep up the great work!

 

 

 

Intreview with Sports Massage Legend Andy Miller

Written by Roger White on . Posted in Blog

Andy and David RudishaI have the incredible pleasure of catching up with a legend of sports massage, Andy Miller. For years Andy has worked in track and field with some f the top athletes in the world. I was able to catch Andy for a quick a minute to ask him about some of the ins and outs of his work. 

Hi Andy, Thanks for taking time to answer a few questions.  You have worked in track and field, along with other sports for a long time, going back to the 70s.  What makes a therapist sought out and what makes you different from all the other massage therapists out there? 

Andy using the FAT Tool on a runner

Andy using the FAT Tool on a runner

 

 

The most important I think is quick results. I am sought out because I combine deep tissue release and joint mobilization.  Since I have been using the FAT Tools (Fascial Abrasion Technique), my treatments have become less painful and more effective.

I have read one of your first influence came from your college athletic trainer, Barry Francis Ryan.  Who have been some of your other therapy influences over time? 

The two biggest influences on my life have been Dr. F. Garrett Moscos, who introduced me to A/K(Applied Kinesiology) muscle testing and joint mobilization, and Dr. Mark Scappaticci, who introduced me to A.R.T.(Active Release Technique) and also the inventor of the FAT Tools.

In your experience, what are the biggest mistakes therapists make, and what might be wastes of time in therapy, especially when on the road as you are often?

The biggest mistake might be taking too long with treatments prior to races, since the longer you work the tissue the more energy you take out of the tissue.

With all your massage work, what therapy techniques are most effective, and how do you measure effectiveness?  How has your therapy sessions evolved over time, or have they remained the same?

For me the most effective soft tissue release is accomplished by using the FAT Tools.  They are revolutionizing myofascial release and improving patient comfort levels.  I used to use my fingers, hands, forearms, elbows, and knuckles. They were effective but very painful to my clients.

Where can you find FAT tools at?

They can purchased at www.FAT-ToolsUSA.com.

On your blog you posted this note:

image (1)"New York Diamond League Meeting

New York was a blur, Thursday was hectic, between canceled and delayed flights athletes were coming in until 11:30pm for treatments. Friday was a repeat of Thursday with the addition of a FAT Tool Work Shop Friday morning, with the addition of the rain the temperature dropped into the 50's.  I didn't finish working until 11:30pm at night.  The weather Saturday started out wet and in the 50's again, not ideal weather for a track meet.  I got on the 10:00am bus to the warm up area at the track to work the meet, and then finished my last flush out at 10:00pm. I think I worked on at least 60 different athletes.  I caught the 7:30pm bus to the airport, and got home at 7:00 NYC time, I unpacked and repacked and am ready to go back to the airport tomorrow to fly up to Eugene at 9:00am."

With such a busy schedule like this, how much time do you actually get to spend on each athlete?

My treatment sessions are usually 30 minutes.  The first treatment sessions tend to be longer sometimes over an hour, but by the fourth treatment almost everyone can be finished in 30 minutes.

What assessments and or evaluations do you do prior to treatments, and how does this guide your treatment?

I like to feel for tissue tension and inflammation in the tissue.  My fingers are my guide.

Do the techniques you use in the session vary depending on when race day is, how would they be modified on the day of a race, and also post-race?  How might sessions be varied in these situations, or are they similar?

Yes, I can do deeper treatments the further out the competition is.  On competition day I primarily stretch and joint mobilization.  I will then do the soft tissue work on them after they finish their competition.

You do a lot of your work in hotel rooms.  When you work at these bigger meets and championship events, what determines if you treat athletes in the room or at the track?

I work in hotel rooms because that is where my table is.  The meets usually have their own therapists so I am an elective option.  At major championships the host usually provides tented areas where the therapists from the different countries' therapist set up their tables.

I know what I feel like after doing 6 hours of treatments at a race.  Working so much, traveling, and now teaching FAT Tool workshops, what advice would you give to therapists themselves who are traveling and doing hours of work daily?

Try and get 6-8 hours of sleep whenever possible, drink lots of water, ice yourself where needed, and find another therapist you like and trade out work on each other.

Andy Miller clientsYou have a Hall of Fame client list, current and past made up of both sprinters and distance runners.  Working with these athletes in championship events, how would you treat them between rounds, if at all?

Usually with a light flush between rounds, and then just spot work.

I read when you travel you have your suitcase, table and computer.  Other than cream, what might be some things you travel with that someone might not be expect?

I carry a leather ditty bag given to me by Susantheka Jayeshenga from Sri Lanka that has my FAT Tools, Stop Pain, band aides, gloves, and  Ibuprofen.  I work with the bare essentials.

When working with athletes, is there a common request you find?

Since most of the athletes or their managers know and my reputation, they tend to let me do what I do best.  Such is the level of their trust in my skills.

Are there any events you will working in the next few months we might be able to find you at, either working or teaching?

I have just agreed to work with the Arizona Cardinals football team, so you’ll find me at all their practices in Glendale, AZ.

Andy, thank you so much for your time and openness.  It’s been really interesting to hear the behind the scenes stories and how your practice has evolved since you started.  I know I see you on Twitter @andysccs posting photos and quick notes of your travels.  You also have a website www.andysscs.com where you post your workshop schedule.  You can also purchase the FAT Tools at www.FAT-ToolsUSA.com..  This is where I bought mine at and I love it.  I can’t recommend this enough.

It’s been a tremendous pleasure to be able to ask you these questions. I now there will be massage therapists out there reading this who will have learned something as a result.  Thank you.

 

Runners Massage Studio - 2013