Where I’ve come…Part 2

Written by Roger White on . Posted in Blog

This week I got a new massage table, one that might be considered the sports car version of massage tables.  Lightweight, easy to use and carry. After some of the great responses from the last blog post, I wanted to write a continuation of the previous post on those who helped me along the way.

 In 2007, after my first training, I came back to my training facility and scheduled a “recovery Friday” which consisted of 4 or more athletes in my college prep group coming in to get treatment to loosen up their muscles.  I didn’t have a table at the time, and proceeded to do them on the floor on an exercise mat.  My knees and back would kill!  These sessions were very valuable, as I found most of the athletes were extremely tight and the muscles were similar to rubbing the wood floor.  I knew to achieve higher levels of performance, more therapy would be needed and I couldn’t do it all.  I offered a parent-athlete massage clinic, teaching parents of my athletes how to so simple massage techniques to help their kids.
Later on, I recall one instance where athletes would come over my house, and not having a table, we used the floor, but without the exercise mat and I had to use pillows to brace my knees!  While an athlete is getting my treatment, my oldest daughter, about 1 year old, would pat backs of people, put stuffed animals on and around them, and do all sorts of things innocent things.  It’s quite funny, of course, but I was willing to do whatever it took to help those in need.  And best of all, the athletes didn’t care, they were willing to do whatever it took on their end too, even if it meant coming on a Friday night at 10pm or lying on the floor while my daughter decorated them with animals.
Soon I was smart and was able to get a new table for cheap on craigslist, which I have used until this week.  The table has been to 3 state finals for track and field, as we have been the only team with a treatment table at the event in those 3 consecutive years (and have had athletes place top 8 all three of those years as well).  It has been to 2 national championships.  The first one was in Baltimore where pre-race work was done in the parking lot of a grocery store because there was no room near the track and warm-up area for a table.  The day before was done in the hotel room, and the table barely squeezed into the room!  When I asked one of the runners about the parking lot in Baltimore, his reply was “Ya, I remember, that really shady neighborhood parking lot!”
I also recall when a Canadian athlete was driving to town for treatment and couldn’t cross the border, so I drove to Windsor, Ontario to meet him at 10pm on a Saturday night.  We then went to the university student center building at 11pm and did treatment there (see the picture), while the dozen or so students were studying at various tables around us.  Interestingly, in 2 hours, no one told us to leave!
In part 1 I mentioned Charlie.  There  were times Charlie would spend hours working on athletes in the hotel at international meets, barely having time to watch them race.  Other times, athletes might come over and they would get treatments. He was the type of person who was so generous, he would give the shirt off his back to help his athletes.  Situations are rarely ideal in coaching and therapy.  You make the best of what you have and take advantage of the great opportunities given.  Charlie started out getting a massage school to come out and treat athletes.  Later, when the team had money, they hired a full time therapist, and later would hire Waldemar.
So this new table isn’t just a new table, but a symbol of doing whatever it takes to help those I work with.  The same attitude and work ethic my mentors have done for years to achieve great success.

How it all began…

Written by Roger White on . Posted in Blog

In 2005 I started an athlete training company. One small camp ended up leading to a cascade of events that would change my life.  Most of my first athletes were middle-school aged soccer and football players.  As many of them got older, the focus shifted to high school athletes, and later college and profesisonal athletes.  In 2007 I was getting calls from parents asking me to help their child recover from muscle pulls.  After many attempts with several massage therapists, I took action to learn from a person who knew better than nearly anyone out there, Charlie Francis.

I had communicated with Charlie for years about training theory, sprint development and various training areas.  I knew he knew a lot about therapy, as his training groups in the 80s were decades ahead in terms of the therapy-training interaction.  The group had a full time therapist, who saw the athletes throughout the week and when indicated, would notify Charlie the athlete should probably take it easy because the muscles were not ready.  Charlie spent time learning from the therapists as well.  One of Charlie’s therapists was Waldemar Matuszewski.  In 2011 when I first met Waldemar, he recalled how he would work on one leg of the athlete, while Charlie would try to imitate on the other.  The athlete would provide feedback on pressure, speed, and other sensations.

In 2007, I finally made the drive to Toronto to visit Charlie.  That first day, he began working on one leg, and said “get some cream, and copy me.”  I was very nervous, had very little coordination and felt really awkward.  It was a real eye opener for me at how fast and how much pressure he used, which in reality is not much pressure compared to other techniques traditionally used.  Those first days with Charlie gave me an incredible base of information.  Charlie would often talk about “ideal” muscle tone, the amount of tension in the muscles.  Muscles with low tone are too relaxed and cannot contract optimally.  Muscles with high tone are often really tight and have les than optimal contraction ability.  When you are a high performance athlete, this is crucial.  It takes time to get muscles optimally toned and then constant attention to maintain it.  One big workout can take an optimally toned muscle into too much tone.  Often, areas like hamstrings will take several sessions to adjust tone.

A few years later, I brought a few athletes to Charlie.  One had chronic knee pain and I had done many hours of massage on her.  As he worked on her legs, he reminded me the need to continue to work into the deeper levels of muscles.  Most of my work was superficial.  As I have gotten better at massage, I have gotten better at reaching deeper muscles.  This was another eye opener for me, and was very thankful for that opportunity to get feedback on an athlete I felt was getting great treatment from me.

Soon after this meeting, Charlie passed away to cancer, and at his funeral, I met a guy named Tyrone who had spent time getting treated by Waldemar. Waldemar is not easy to see, and Tyrone would later introduce me to Waldemar, something that would change my therapy practice forever.  In our first weekend visit to Waldemar, we discovered his definition of ideal muscle tone! It is not easy to describe in words, but when you feel the muscles, you will know what is ideal.  I had done a few sessions on Tyrone prior to our visit, and then later when Waldemar treated him, he commented his tone was ideal. Those who study Waldemar and Charlie often had asked this question, what is optimal tone?  And now we had found the answer.

In the 80s, Waldemar was said to not use any oils or lotions and have an incredible ability of touch.  Our sessions started with electrical muscle stimulation for about 20 minutes, with pads placed on strategic areas on the calves, hamstrings, glutes, and back.  After EMS, he applied a muscle gel that would dry in a few minutes after application and then would proceed to work the muscles with a shaking and grabbing technique that lifted and separated the muscles.  During treatment it felt like nothing was really occurring, as the “pressure” you might feel during massage was not there.  At one point during the session, Waldemar pointed out, “see, feel this?  I’m grabbing your bone (femur).” At that point, I couldn’t feel anything.  In Tyrone’s treatment, it didn’t last long.  Waldemar commented if he did any more work on the muscles the tone would be way too relaxed to run fast.

This was a huge lesson for me, as the traditional massage session is often 60 minutes.  Sometimes more time is needed, especially when tone is too high, but it doesn’t have to be if the muscles feel good, or sometimes not much time is needed.

In the 3 years Waldemar spent in Charlie’s group, the group had one injury. The group achieved success not only because they had talented coach and athletes, but optimal training WITH optimal regeneration/recovery.  Athletes in Charlie’s group would receive 2-5 massages each week, in addition to other therapy methods.

With my therapy focus mainly on athletes/runners, I feel I have done well to practice the principles and techniques of my two mentors.  Being a coach and having access to athletes, I can say therapy is our “secret” to high performance.  When I am able to get 2 or more sessions a week, I can improve muscle tone and it shows in the athletes races and training. I have at times used several treatments in a day to decrease muscle tone when it was too high.  Waldemar had stated he might see an athlete several times throughout the day to treat something.  At the time I couldn’t understand how this was possible, but when you don’t aggravate the muscles, additional work may be done.

I use a gentle approach, never applying so much pressure to cause tissue damage (one of Waldemar’s principles).  Most sessions begin with EMS (electrical muscle stimulation) on targeted areas, or scattered placements to maintain muscle tone.  Sessions are concluded with a stretching progression I have developed over time.  I know the session is a success when athletes get off the table, move their legs around, and comment they “feel light and loose.”  That is the phrase Charlie would tell me was the goal.

I strive to be a world class therapist, not just in massage, but overall recovery and regeneration. This is the least I can do, especially when athletes train really hard for their goals on the track, roads and fields of play.

 

Fascial Abrasion Technique (FAT Tool) for runners

Written by Roger White on . Posted in Blog

Recently I came across a new tool designed to help release fascia, a connective tissue found throughout the body.  Many times tight muscles/areas are a result of fascia “sticking.”  There are hands-on massage techniques to help  release the fascia, but the fascial abrasion technique (FAT) tool can release the fascia in less than a minute in most cases.  By simply creating friction with the skin, the fascia is stretched and releases from its “stuck” position.

Many injuries and current aches and pains can be eliminated with the FAT tool.  Below is me working on a runners IT band and calf, two areas where fascia is notorious for sticking.  I use the FAT tool to release the fascia and then follow up with hands-on treatments.

Areas the FAT tool is extremely helpful for runners:

  • GlutesIMG_1455
  • Hamstrings
  • Groin/adductors
  • IT Band
  • Quadriceps
  • Calf/Shins
  • Plantar fascia (underside of the foot)
  • Lower back
  • Middle back
  • Upper back/Traps
  • Neck

Thoughts from this past week

Written by Roger White on . Posted in Blog

Had a full week coaching cross country in the afternoons.  The team killed their workouts this week.  It’s great to see confidence improve each session.

Saw only a handful of clients this week.  A few new clients early in the week and then got to treat an incredible person, not to mention professional runner for Nike, who was in town to prepping for the Crim Michigan Mile.

I’m on a quest to provide super human massage therapy for athletes.  I strive for complete healing each session. Its a battle between me & the muscles.   I will win.

Runners Massage Studio - 2013