Massage Today
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Massage Today
December, 2009, Vol. 9, Issue 12

Palpation, Palpation, Palpation!

By John G. Louis, CMT

We've all heard the old adage about the three most important considerations when opening a business are location, location, location! Similarly, I believe the very first skill you need to have to effectively treat athletes is highly developed palpatory ability.

If you can palpate; you can heal! Knowing how to quickly assess tissue and treat properly will give you the techniques to deliver what I believe to be essential therapeutic value to the athlete.

In my many years treating professional athletes, I've seen firsthand just how incredibly powerful specific soft tissue therapy can be. It can extend the athlete's athletic lifespan. It can prevent injury and make a huge difference in the athlete's performance on the field and can actually be the difference winning and losing championships.

In my view, all competitive athletes should be receiving at least one 60- to 120-minute therapeutic massages per week. Again, that should be the minimum. Two or three treatments per week would be much more optimal.

So, how are you doing with your palpatory skills? Here are some ideas that can help you develop your skills and prepare you to make a substantial contribution to sport.

Steps to Developing Your Skills

  1. Get advanced training. I am a big believer in advanced training. My personal favorite is Neuromuscular. There are some great educators in the country who teach seminars regularly. This training will open your eyes to a whole new approach. I encourage you to seek these teachers out and work with them.
  2. Get treatments. Receive treatment from therapists who are proficient in neuromuscular massage. This will give you an awareness that I believe will pay dividends everyday in your treatments. I try to receive massage as much as possible from talented therapists and I always learn from every experience.
  3. Give treatments. Give treatments to advanced therapists. Getting their feedback and thoughts about your work will be incredibly powerful. I encourage the therapists who work at my clinic to trade with fellow therapists as much as possible, knowing they will derive great value from each treatment.

I'm excited about the growth that I've witnessed in the awareness of massage for competitive athletes over the last 30 years in which I've worked with pro athletes. However, there are still many athletes and team athletic trainers who have no idea just how valuable massage therapy can be for the athlete.

I highlighted this fact in my last article when I interviewed two professional sports team athletic trainers. One of them was convinced of the value of massage and the other was not convinced. There is plenty of work to be done to educate the sports community about therapeutic massage. If you desire to work with high level athletes, please try to implement these ideas. You can be part of this fun and exciting world! 

I want to congratulate my client, David Roadhouse, who just won the World Triathlon Championship in Queensland, Australia on Sept. 13. David is a regular user of massage therapy and he credits the work as being part of the reason for his success.

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


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