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Massage Today
December, 2008, Vol. 08, Issue 12

Sports Medicine: A Team Effort

By John G. Louis, CMT

When I started working with pro athletes in 1980, massage therapy had almost a nonexistent presence in this country. Most teams had only physicians and trainers. However, massage was not the only thing missing. There was an absence of physical therapists and chiropractors as well.

I knew in those early days that there was a future for all of the above. It's very exciting for me to see the recent acceptance of what I'll call the "essential therapies."

I have seen firsthand how vitally important a role the rest of us play, in addition to the trainer and physician, in the health of the athlete. Because of the fact that the approaches all have their own niche, they each bring their own set of skills to the table. Physical therapists bring a powerful rehab and strengthening component. More and more teams today have one on staff these days.

Chiropractic has a very important place, especially for athletes who have had significant back injuries and/or spinal degeneration. A skilled chiropractor can help to significantly slow degeneration and prevent future injury.

Massage therapy also has many advantages for the athlete. As skilled massage therapists, we have the ability to palpate and comprehensively evaluate tissue. Consequently, we can identify and treat trouble spots before they progress into an injury. I've concluded that receiving regular therapeutic massage is one of the most important things an athlete can do for themselves. It's absolutely necessary for helping to optimize performance, preventing injury, reducing competition anxiety and achieving career longevity.

Sports successes often boil down to millimeters and microseconds. These "essential therapies" are able to achieve lots of things more traditional therapies can't achieve. I believe we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg when it comes to our important work being accepted and used with competitive athletes. If you are inclined to want to work with pro athletes, I believe you just may get your chance. Good luck!

Click here for previous articles by John G. Louis, CMT.


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