What a great bunch of folks, those Canadians. Simon, Kyle, Jill, Natasha, Kirstin, Colin, Lauren, and even Adam and Jordan. Jordan is an honorary Canadian I believe, well, he trains with them any way. This group makes up the Canadian National Triathlon team that recently concluded an altitude training camp here in Flagstaff.
While in Flagstaff, the team of eight athletes received an average of one hour of sports massage therapy/bodywork a week. Some used this one hour divided into two half hours a week, and some received two-hours a week on average. In the early days of such a camp, the athlete’s main focus is on acclimatizing. Specific techniques targeting the breathing apparatus may be of benefit during this time. If the athlete is having any problems with rib function or breathing pattern disorders this may inhibit the effects, to some degree, of the altitude training.
The term ‘sports massage’ encompasses a wide variety of techniques. I believe the most important techniques are communication and physiological understanding. Depending upon where the athlete is in their training, I may use techniques ranging from general effleurage strokes and compressions to flush the metabolic waste from the muscles, to pelvic balancing routines to ensure balance left to right between the ilia and sacrum.
During the off-season it of crucial importance to assist the athlete in maintaining proper joint range of motion and muscle firing order. I have found Erik Dalton’s Myoskeletal Alignment Techniques to be a great tool for the delivery of such outcomes. Another aspect of massage for athletes is to help reduce the anxiety surrounding competition. Encouraging words and positive feedback are sometimes all it takes to achieve this. James Waslaski is always telling his students, “Choose your words wisely, what you say to a person will either build them up, or break them down.” I find this to be very true; we can either put our clients mind at ease or really freak them out!
Another responsibility of the sports massage therapist is to know when to refer for further evaluation and treatment from another health care providers. Build relationships with chiropractors, osteopaths, nutritionists, and trainers.
I will not go into any specific conditions treated during the camp. These folks are here training their butts off, and it suffice to say they did need the recovery work, all in all it was a great camp for all of us. I say "us" because for the three months I am part of that team.