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Sports Massage at the NCAA Track Championships

Submitted by on June 10, 2009 – 11:41 amOne Comment

Greetings from the NCAA Championships!

I have been invited to provide sports massage this week for the University of Michigan Track & Field athletes at this year’s NCAA championships (my 5th championship trip).  The location changes year-to-year.  This year they are held in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  The track and field championships run from Wednesday through Saturday, with the athletes competing in preliminary rounds over the first two days to qualify for the finals on Friday and Saturday.

Sports Massage - Track and Field

My job here is to help the athletes recover between each round, keeping their legs loose and feeling fresh.  If an athlete competes early in the day, I will give them a post-event “flush-out” massage and assisted stretching at the sports medicine area next to the track facility, but the majority of my work is done back at the hotel in the evening after each day’s events (I usually work until about 11:00pm).   I will also perform pre-event sports massage in the mornings if an athlete has a late evening competition, so I really find myself on-call all day during this week.

Because the athletes compete so often, I do not perform any deep trigger point work while I am here.  Instead, I use broad pressure massage and light stretching techniques to ensure I do not cause any soreness or muscle inhibition the following day.  I also keep the duration of these sports massages brief, about 20 minutes on average — just enough time to loosen their legs.

A key component of this work is that the athletes have received sports massage from me throughout the season, and their bodies have become accustomed to my techniques.  This ensures they will not feel sore from the massage as well as not feel I am doing anything new or unfamiliar to them before the biggest competition of their career.

As I tell the participants in my sports massage courses, a great perk of working an event like this is the opportunity to meet with other massage therapists and sports medicine professionals, something I plan do do as much as possible this week.  There is always more to learn, and I enjoy looking for new techniques and tips from the other therapists at these events.

Working a NCAA Championship is a fantastic experience, and I feel very fortunate to be here.  I can’t tell you how great my job is when I am able to work with an athlete all season and then see them fulfill their dreams of winning a national title!


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