Improved Performance: One Athlete's Story

Posted on: Mon, 04/13/2009 - 12:04pm By: Alice

Many years ago I worked with a long distance runner whose goal was to qualify for the Olympic trials. He was the most serious athlete with whom I've worked the most consistently over the longest period of time. I saw him at least once a week for 2 1/2 years. After about six months of regular massage therapy, he commented one day that he'd just gone the longest period he'd ever had without a pulled muscle. I asked him to elaborate.

Don (not his real name) was a serious runner who did everything he could to maximize his performance. He stretched religiously and paid careful attention to nutrition. Still, every few months he'd pull a muscle and have to take some time off from running. Now that he was getting weekly sports massage, his muscles were not getting tight and he was not experiencing the pulled muscles that he'd gotten previously. When he first came for massage, he was running 60 to 80 miles a week. He was now running 80 to 100 miles a week and was running with more ease. In addition he'd shaved two minutes off his 10K time. His recovery time after a marathon had decreased dramatically. He was quite pleased with the results of his weekly massages.

During the 2 1/2 years I worked with Don, he got two minor hamstring pulls from which he recovered quickly. He never missed a race because of a problem with his muscles. Because he was constantly measuring himself, Don could easily see the difference that regular massage had made in his performance.

Don moved away but I asked him to call me if he qualified for the Olympic trials. One day I got a phone call from him. Normally he was a person I'd describe as somewhat serious, but he was giggling like a kid. He'd just reached his goal and had qualified for the Olympic trials. I was elated and felt proud to have been part of his "team".

Whether you are a serious runner like Don or more casual about your physical activity, the right kind of sports massage can help keep your muscles functioning at their best. Less tightness means that you are less likely to pull a muscle, that your muscles will have their maximum power and range of motion, that you will fatigue less quickly, and recover more quickly. If you are a competitive athlete, regular sports massage can give you that competitive edge.