Kiplimo Chemirmir is one of the busiest sports massage therapists. Kip has just traveled all over the southwestern states doing work on runners. Kip spent many years racing professionally and turned up some impressive times. He still races often, and I have even seen him running a marathon himself, and then doing massage on runners after! He’s full of energy, enthusiasm, and an incredible passion running.
Hi Kip, Thanks for taking time to answer a few questions. It’s an honor to have the opportunity to ask you about your unique life as a sports massage therapist! You are well known in the Austin, Texas and in most of the country, for your sports massage. What makes a therapist sought out and what makes you different from all the other massage therapists out there?
What I do is what makes me different, for it was not learned or made in US, and no one does it around the world also. It’s often aggressive and its only done to athletes. It took me a long visit to China and Thailand to study the art of making a champion through massaging, stretching and other various exercises which are very intense in nature, so I could add to my Kenyan massage technique.
I was compelled to design Kenthaichi technique so it can serve more than injury but preventing it also. For the most glaring thing I found after all many years as an elite athlete: Runners, out of all the athletes, lacked the most in terms of education in the areas of fitness/performance training, well-being, patience to heal, nutritional support, supplementation usage, and lifestyle choices. In the end I came to realize the athlete has gotten faster and stronger.
My role with the in the fitness and therapy world is to bridge the gap between the lifestyle and the sport. I want to build the ultimate runner deep in the road and track: agile, fast, powerful, skilled, resistant to injuries, swift to recover from the clobbering they get from intense or training in the heat, and most important undisturbed by fatigue. I also want to build the ultimate warrior outside of the ring they sweat and bleed upon: lean, muscular, balanced, symmetrical, healthful, and educated with wisdom of a true warrior that is molded in Kenthaichi. Finally, I plan to build a fortress around the athlete: a tight-knit support system of understanding friends, the pain and their training. How to treat the family , themselves and friends when injured. Strengthen them to not only understands the battle inside training and competition, but also the lengthy journey to get there. When we speak therapy, it's more than for the body, but for the mind too, because the most stubborn injury is the one that hides in shadows behind ones mind. I do all hide because like being part of someone village that helps them win. for I believe all that we are should stand as a humble warrior when in defeat or in victory. Helping them stay fit and healthy helps us therapists too become great role models.
So you have created a blending of therapy styles from around the world. Who have been some of your therapy influences over time?
Yes, I call it Kenthaichi, which stands for Kenya, Thailand and China. I created Kentaichi for the best so they can have the best that they seek. I call it the best because even my both teachers did not have the knowledge I ended up with.
My teacher from China for teaching me all the secrets, and his friend from Thailand Master Chan The Steel Elbow. My Chinese teacher, all that I am was the fire he wanted to bring in this world, if it wasn’t for him, I’d still be another Kenyan runner like those I hail from the same tribe with. I’m forever thankful because of them. ‘’I did not mention my Chinese teachers name, because no one calls him by his name. I only called him Shifu.''
Can you explain how your therapy techniques have evolved over time?
Every once in a while as therapist you will meet a client who has an injury you have no idea what it is. They’ll come complaining they’ve had it for months or years, visited doctors and chiropractors but nothing seems to work. To treat them I compel myself into a meditation and feel what the client feels, asking myself if I was the one who had their injury, how would I want it to be treated, and the answer has never failed me. With time and two more visits I have been blessed with the ability to defy chronic problems. Everyone who comes to see me, also comes with something to teach me so I can help others after them. I use this state of mind for it’s from the belief of warriors I hail from, that we must never fail from helping someone. This belief gives me a reason to know this is not business but a purpose.
During your sessions, the athlete is very active. They are being stretched and massaged often. I doubt anyone has ever fallen asleep during a treatment on your table! I’ve seen you do deep tissue work briefly, and then stretch, and repeat this throughout the body. Can you explain this concept?
Hahaha No one has ever fallen asleep, maybe when I’m using my left hand alone, which is the soothing one and the right one is the healing one, which does it like it’s a surgery session. Kenthaichi’s sole purpose is to reach the depths of everything that moves the body, from the mind, bones, joints, muscles, heart rate, lungs, and breath control. When one exercises and is massaged at the same time it’s the best chance to manipulate the tightness, flush the lactic acids, for in the end it’s not healing we would have achieved but also what creates an athlete which is, Flexibility, Endurance, Strength and Speed. If an athlete can endure a two to four hour sessions, then he or she will be able to endure anything that others find item hard.
In your experience, what are the biggest mistakes therapists make, and what might be wastes of time in therapy?
Things I really find to be of no use is taking a clients money, just to tell them their problem, spend an hour with them doing nothing but rubbing, and talking then finish with cracking them. Not everyone needs adjustments and cracking. Patients need help fixing them. When a client comes to see you for a month with the same problem, yet they have been seeing you 2 to 3times a week. That's like robbing them.
Other mistakes is telling a client they need a surgery, also this kind of treatment is not necessary for everyone who is hurting and wants to go back to their sport. Therapists need to find ways of connecting and helping them heal. Take time for it’s all we have, go beyond your time to help someone have time to do what they love. Surgery isn’t always a good thing. I’ve had friends I used to run, race and also friends and clients who have had surgery, many of them took the knife with the hopes of getting back better. When that thought is rooted in the mind, and the surgery has come to pass, the athlete will expect to train and run faster than before, but the body is imbalanced because of the tightness that the surgery left behind. The other side of the body begins to feel the toll. The body is meant to feel the pain, and when it does, we should teach them pull back and do other things like strength training, flexibility, swimming, aqua jogging, Cryotherapy, Ice Bath, stretching, and yoga so everything can connect and heal, because the body has the ability to heal itself when helped. If you are an athlete have a therapist who understands athletes and works with them. Being told to take some time off is just completely wrong for me, an active body is not something that can be switched off like that, it can be put to other things that the athlete has been ignoring to feed it with.
Speaking of feeding, diet is very important. There are foods that help the body heal, and also herbs and gels that the patient should be using at home. The patients also need to be taught to take care of themselves so when they come to see us, improvement comes swift. A good and great therapist is someone who help and heal, not talk and take.
With all your massage work, what therapy techniques are most effective, and how do you measure effectiveness?
For me I’m a great believer of flexibility and strength. It is what gave our ancestors longevity and a happy life. I always do all I can do make sure my clients have achieved that when they come to see me and when they go home that they stretch and roll, because I will know next time when they come to see me, and also they will tell me about their improvement and gain of confidence.
You do many treatments in your house, or on the road. How much time do you actually get to spend on each athlete? Do you ever do multiple sessions on an athlete daily?
Short sessions are 1 hour, but for elite runners we can go up to 3 or 4 hours, but that will only be twice in a month. For the elite yes I’ll do multiple sessions daily. When they have three workouts in a day, especially Tuesday and Thursday, three sessions will be needed, but they will not be very intense. For the elite it will be because I feel for them and I want to help them heal in a week, but I only do that to someone who seems really frustrated, broken and tired of what they’re going through. If I see them twice for 1 hour each for a day, by sunset their sad feelings will be gone, and next day they will start experiencing better feelings, so if we repeat that again after two days they will be feeling much better by the weekend.
Do you do any assessments and or evaluations do you do prior to treatments, and how does this guide your treatment?
For me, only plantar fascia is the one that acts like anti chest and needs more exorcism time..jk! It’s the only injury that challenges me the most, but anything else if they can endure the first session, the next one, which must be soon after, will be able to change the course of the injury and not more than two weeks we will be talking or working on something else. I believe in myself, so I just pour my heart and soul into what’s meant to be fixed and plan won’t be needed that much. Because I will also need the client to believe in me, believe what we are doing is going to work, and what they are going to do at home will help. This has never failed us.
A Youtube video was posted where you had Leo Manzano connected to a tire and resistance bands. (Link to video) What is this doing? Where did you come up with this concept? Are there ideal times to use this and bad times to use this?
Wow, this will require me to write a book to explain it all, but I’ll try to brush it to the basics. I learned it Kenya, but perfected it when I came to America. First it’s like doing hill repeats at altitude. It helps with the blood flow. It strengthens the back, especially those with scoliosis and hip problems. It lengthens the strides and helps the foot land softly while running. It aligns the posture and helps the runner be and feel swift. It also helps a runner to not land on the ground but push the ground. It boosts stamina and swinging of hands. Among other things, because of it I was able to run 3:52 mile and 28 minutes for 10k with ease. The longest to do it is not more than an hour. Closer to races one can use it for no more than 30 minutes, and it’s great for warm up before the race. That pain one feels burning the chest will not be felt.
Do the techniques you use in the session vary depending on when race day is? How would your treatments be modified on the day of a race, and also post-race?
The last massage is always on Thursday if the race is on Saturday or Sunday, if another one will be needed it has to be the light massage, but only if we have been doing this in training so it doesn’t affect the results. It has to be part of training and not treatment. The closer to the race the stretching will be reduced and also the intensity of the massage. The athlete’s hands must be massaged every day on the week prior to the race. But the full body massage must not be more than 3 times in a week. After a race of course, the massage is need and it has to be deep, then next day also, then we’ll go a week or so without another.
How would you treat runners between rounds, if at all?
Between rounds I often do light massage and lots of shaking. Whole body vibrating machine is perfect for that. The athletes to hop on it for 10 minutes then 7 minutes in an ice bath, followed by soaking in hot water with Epsom salt, then a 30 minute massage, which we’ll use arnica oil and arnica gel, then repeat the hot and cold water soaking, then compression boots, then finish with a 10 minutes on the vibrating machine. It’s very fun. If cryotherapy can be used instead of an ice bath it will work like magic!
What might be some things you travel with that someone might not be expect?
My bags are always full like that of a clown, but the stuff I have inside are exercise stuff like the ab roller, weights, and resistance bands, among other things that athletes are scared of. Nail clippers, hand sanitizer and hand lotion are actually closer to me than my wallet!
When working with athletes, is there a common request you find?
To be honest most know that I’m not like other therapists who only work on the area they’ve been asked. If the athlete says their hamstring is bothering them, then it begins from their back even up to the neck. If it’s the knee, then the glutes are going to wish they were somewhere else, because the weakness begins from there to the hip, then down the IT band, and boom to the knee. We are not like machines that when broken, it’s only in one area that requires fixing. I like to work on the entire body, so I can alter the problem but also how the mind thinks of the pain.
Most athletes, after I work on them, want to take me with them. They say I should go to their state and they’ll find me a place to stay and office to work in. Some have even hid my passports so I can stay a little longer with them. It’s also crazy sometimes when an elite runner asks me for an autograph. That’s why I don’t ask them for theirs because I don’t have a place to put them, I prefer taking picture of them and says so and so got Kip’d, and they seem to like it. Some who haven’t got Kip’d will do their best to come to me when I’m a their state. It’s always a wonderful feeling to do what I do, for it brings me a great honor.
Are there any events you will working in the next few months we might be able to find you at?
I will be in Dallas on December and Houston marathon next year, plus plenty of track races. I often avoid going to races because everyone will want to be massaged by me after a marathon or track race. It’s rare to see a therapist who stretches and passionately works on someone after a race till they’re limping from the beating they got in the race goes away. When others see this, or told by someone I just worked on, I’ll have an army of runners waiting for me to work on them, and it’s really hard to fit them all. Some have even waited for 5 hours to see me. I find it hard sometimes for me to be around runners. Even when running with them one will ask how to avoid a certain pain in their body or do to go faster. This life is the coolest.
Kip, you are absolutely incredible! Thank you so much for your time and openness. It’s been really interesting to hear the behind the scenes stories. I know I see you on Facebook with Kiprunning Sports Massage
and on Twitter @therunimal posting inspiring quotes. Is there a website people can find more information on you?
I only have a blog where I write my wisdom, thoughts and few things about me. http://kiplimochemirmir.wordpress.com. If one wants to reach me, here is my email email@example.com and phone is (972) 693 5181
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 for your time!
Hakuna matata my friend, it’s always wonderful to hear from you.
Thanks for all you do, never change that spirit.