I just returned from World Track and Field Championships in Osaka, Japan as part of the U.S. medical staff. Our U.S. athletes set a medal record for World Championships of 26 total and 14 gold medals. Let me talk about the routine that most of the running athletes had in order to perform at top speed without injury. They would take a training run or work out then come to the training room where we would "flush" their legs with massage and active stretching. After that they often would take an ice bath in about 50-55 degree water for 5 to 10 minutes. The style of massage that works best is one called "active release". It involves the athlete moving the joint that contracts and lengthens the muscle being worked on. If I was working on the athlete's hamstrings (back of thigh), s/he would lie on his/her stomach and I would use my hands or forearm to engage the muscle and feel the muscle fibers move under my pressure while the athlete bent and straightened his/her knee. This particular style of soft tissue work seems to give faster results at loosening tension areas and the athlete is engaged in the process. This keeps him/her focused on the work being done, instead of "checking out" and being passive in the treatment.
We use this same technique in physical therapy to loosen tight muscles due to surgery or chronic pain problems or as a performance enhancement for active people. Active Release- style manual therapy is as appropriate today as it was when I wrote this nine years ago. At Santa Fe Sports Med. we believe that this one-on-one-style therapy (therapist to patient) is most effective for the clients' improved biomechanics and their therapy experience.
We offer 15 minute free consultations, by appointment. M-F 7:30am-6:00pm.
Julie Endreson, MS, ATC