I 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?
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:
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.
You 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.
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