Author Archive

Interview with Dr. Jess Greaux on the Noraxon system

Written by Roger White on . Posted in Blog

Dr. Jess Greaux founded Innersport Chiropractic in Berkeley, California, with a focus on sports injury management for those seeking an active lifestyle.  Dr. Greaux is an Active Release Techniques (ART) instructor, and a certified ART Ironman Provider.  In Dr. Greaux’s clinic, she uses Noraxon, which measures EMG, pressure mapping, and real-time 3D video analysis.  Dr. Greaux had some time in her busy schedule to answer some questions about Noraxon.

Dr. Greaux, your clinic has a specialization in sports performance. Also unique to your practice is your use of surface EMG using the Noraxon system. Can you explain what sEMG is and how you utilize it in your practice?

sEMG tells us which muscles are firing when (or not!)  We learn muscle sequencing and firing patterns while someone is running, biking, squatting, jumping, etc.  We found most athletes are extremely good compensators, mimicking near perfect form.  However, once we look at the sEMG data synced with video, we are learning how they are accomplishing the technique, which usually involves compensatory, asymmetrical firing patterns.  It’s a BS-ometer.  

Very interesting stuff! There are constantly new releases of technology on the sports performance market that measure different aspects of athlete performance. However, interpretation of this data is not always simple.   In my experience for example, it took a period of months to be able to understand what HRV data meant, and how I would change athlete training as a result. Thus interpreting the data is quite nuanced, and usually the black and white process that every coach would hope for.

How would you describe your learning curve with the Noraxon system? How long did it take for you to get useful data? Who guided you to be able to gain useful information from this system?

We are still learning how sEMG can help us. Seems like the applications are endless.  Noraxon sent reps to work with us one-on-one with our own clients.  I’ve also learned some analysis through Chris Powers during his courses at his Movement Performance Lab.   And, then it’s research and trial and error.  We’ve learned a lot by experimenting with patients and ourselves.  

Do you think there is a clear-cut connection between Noraxon data with athletes doing isolated movements vs. when they are doing dynamic movements like a sprint?

Nothing is ever clear-cut.  Or not as much as we’d like when we are dealing with the human body.  However, yes, we are finding that if someone has difficulty with activating the glute max doing a supine bridge, then it has carried over to running.  In fact, that’s why sEMG is so useful.  We notice they can’t fire the glute max during running, then we work backwards to find WHICH exercise they can be successful in firing the glute max.  Sometimes we may only find 1 exercise where they are successful, then we eventually work forward with more dynamic exercises to get them to running with glute activation.  

IMG_2617

Analysis before treatment intervention

 

 

IMG_2620

Post-treatment analysis showing improvements

Many therapists do assessments with patients on tables, some also include movements such as squats or other exercises. In your experience using sEMG to quantify the assessment, does the patient’s position make a difference? In other words, does a traditional table assessment show similar patterns as those when doing dynamic movements such as squats etc? What about, for example, if someone shows impaired glute firing doing a glute bridge (or another exercise you use to assess), do you expect impaired glute firing during a full effort sprint?

I have to say the sEMG shows us more consistency across various movements vs. movement screens.  However, with that said, every patient is different and not everyone is consistent.  And that is why we use sEMG, to see what THAT particular patient’s compensatory patterns are.  It takes out the cookie-cutter approach to assessment and treatment.
Along with the glutes, it’s common to see trainers and therapists talking about glutes not firing and then” turning them on” or “activating” them with exercises or therapy. Based on your data, can these exercises, such as a bridge, show noticeable changes on sEMG?

Again, everyone is different.  We have given exercises to patients to get the glutes firing, only to learn they still compensate and fire hamstrings, or even glute med instead.  So, this is where we find the exercise that THEY are successful in to fire the right muscles at the right time.  Once we find the exercise that makes them successful, we have them perform the exercise while watching the sEMG data to perfect it.  Then we move on to more dynamic exercises eventually working our way to their particular sport.  

Noraxon is a data gold mine! I’ve seen a professional runner’s report that was several hundred pages long. For someone like a runner, how do you filter this data report to get the most useful information to direct your treatments for that athlete?

It’s all a process.  We don’t use sEMG alone.  We look at videos and force time plots and foot pressure to learn the whole picture.  Many of us have several dysfunctions and asymmetries.  Using sEMG synced with video and other technology we are able to learn the key problem areas that may be causing more than one dysfunction.  Basically we are weeding out the bad data from the useful data by looking at more than one system.

For a new patient/athlete coming to see you, can you walk us through what they would go through in the initial session, and how you use sEMG on the subsequent sessions is used to guide treatment?

IMG_2621

Foot Pressure Mapping

We have several services.  Some come to us for an injury in which they go through a diagnostic exam.  Then we put them through a data collection session with one of our staff.  The patient and I will review the data at the next appointment in which we will determine course of treatment.  Some we go right into gait retraining if they don’t need treatment, but most people need treatment for adhesions that can alter mechanics.  We’ve used sEMG pre/post ART treatment with amazing results.  It verifies our treatment approach.

Sometimes runners and cyclists come to us just for a run analysis or bike fit.  We use sEMG during the analysis.  Some continue to schedule gait or pedal retraining where we use sEMG as biofeedback.  It’s a very power biofeedback tool. 

In addition to foot pressure for runners, you also do seat pressure analysis for cyclists. If a cyclist comes to your clinic of knee pain during rides, what might your assessment using seat analysis look like?

 

IMG_2619

Saddle Pressure Mapping

Yes, we love using saddle and foot pressure for cyclists along with sEMG.   These two technologies allow us to learn HOW the body is responding to a change in fit and treatment!  For instance, we make a change to the fit, does the body perform more symmetrical?  Do they get better glute activation?  When I see dysfunction on the bike and they are unable to load one sit bone on the saddle (seen on the saddle pressure), and then I treat the thoracic spine or hip rotators, does it improve the saddle pressure data? If it does, then I know which exercises to give them and what to treat with ART, Graston, or Myofascial Decompression.  Again, it’s a BS-ometer.  Test, treat, and retest.   Many bike fit systems look only at numbers or knee alignment.  However, the angle measurements do not tell us HOW they are accomplishing the movement or alignment.  sEMG and saddle/foot pressure does.  We learn if the knee alignment looks better because they are activating the muscles correctly to accomplish good technique or are they using the wrong muscles at the wrong time.  Or are they able to get good knee alignment because they are shifting their weight to one side and twisting on the saddle.   This is where treatment is vital.  If they are compensating to “look” good on the bike, then we can treat so they don’t have to compensate.  I think this is what is missing in most bike fits.  The BS-ometer.  🙂

(On Dr. Greaux’s website, she wrote up a case study report on how a high school runner was helped using what she talked about.   http://innersport.com/archives/date/2012/12 )

Amazing stuff Dr. Greaux. Thank you for taking time and sharing. This is incredible.

You can learn more about Dr. Jess Greaux’s clinic and extensive services at http://www.innersport.com and her own blog The Straight Scoop

 

 

 

Basic Physiology of Acupuncture Needle Insertion (dry needling)

Written by Roger White on . Posted in Blog

photo (5)

Four needles inserted and connected to an electro acupuncture stimulator.

Acupuncture is the practice of inserting thin needles into specific locations in the body to elicit a response.  Since nothing is being injected into the body (called wet needling), acupuncture is a form of dry needling. Needle insertions into the skin and muscle tissues created a cascade of physiological effects that provide therapeutic benefits. Needles can provide physiological influence locally, segmentally, extra-segmentally, and provide central regulatory effects.

When a needle is inserted into the tissues, the needle stimulates nerve fibers (Ad) which signals an axon reflex. This reflex releases vasoactive neuropeptides such as Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide (CGRP), which provides vasodilation in the area. Evidence exists shortly after insertion when the needle becomes surrounded by small red patches of skin.

When the Ad fibers are stimulated, an opioid peptide called encephalin is released, ultimately blocking pain and producing segmental analgesia. The action potential move up the nerve to the spinal cord and depress dorsal horn activity. Further, segmental responses also impact the autonomic nervous system. In the short term, there is a sympathetic response in the segment. Long term, the dorsal horn is depressed and an autonomic block interrupts the autonomic reflex, reducing muscle spasm.

These action potentials continue up from the dorsal horn to the brain stem, where extra-segmental effects can be achieved. Signals continue to travel to the midbrain and have shown influence on the cerebral cortex, specifically the hypothalamus and limbic systems.

Additional positive effects are produced when needles are inserted into myofascial trigger points. Contrary to many thoughts, many classical acupuncture points coincide with myofascial trigger points. However, treating these areas can often leave the patient sore following treatment.

photo (4)

CT scan of the wrist with classical acupuncture points labeled

There are many more areas that can be used for insertion sites, such as periosteum, nerve trunks and roots, to name a few. Acupuncture points can be thought of as neuroreactive sites (see image on right).  The image shows a CT scan with classical points placed by their anatomical locations.  Notice the color where these wrist points coincide.

Needling can also be used as a method of neuromodulation, where the effects are sustained on the cells over a period of time. Four opioid peptides can be produced when needles are inserted: b-endorphin (responsible for analgesia), enkelphin, dynormphin, and orphanin (also called endomorphin and nociception).

A classical Chinese medicine principle of treatment is to elicit de qi, the short lived sensation when the nerves are stimulated after needle insertion. Practitioners may choose to twist the needles with their fingers, but this can become cumbersome depending on the number of needles used in the treatment. Another way of increasing stimulation is through the use of electroacupuncture (see image above), where electrodes are connected to needles. Devices have frequency settings, and each frequency has a different physiological response. Research done by Han revealed 2 Hz frequency induced analgesia with b-endorphin, enkelphin and orphanin release on the m receptors. On the high frequency spectrum (80-100Hz), dynorphin was released on the k receptors.

Although needling might be considered ineffective or even placebo effect, physiology has proven responses from needles to occur, and these events can lead to changes in many health conditions.

Recommended Reading

An Introduction to Western Medical Acupuncture (2008) Adrian White, Mike Cummings, Jacqueline Filshie.

 

 

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.

 

Runners Massage Studio - 2013