Bodywork Aiding Performance of Olympic Athletes

The 2008 Olympics have some amazing superstars performing in a growing variety of sports. With Millions of Dollars in sponsorships and frenzied chatter on weblogs, the public is speaking about the high-tech equipment, and more often than before, the developing bodywork techniques used to keep the Olympic athletes going strong while minimizing injuries. Primarily these techniques involve training and recovery, and major tools for both include nutrition and massage therapy.

It is extremely difficult to train and plan for peak performance on a particular day, especially in a foreign land where many have not journeyed before, and remain ahead of injury. However Dara Torres, 41-year-old mother of one, is a prime example of how dedicated training and bodywork can produce superior results. Ms. Torres employs two full-time massage therapists, describing their work as her "secret weapon". Bob Cooley, who claims to have developed "Resistance Stretching" stated that Dara is mashed and stretched for 8 hours every day! Ed Moses, another top swimmer, saw Cooley working on Torres, and he requested a treatment and then off it was- it became "news."

Over the last hundred years, Western medicine has been staining from manual therapies to drugs, surgery, and other invasive treatments. Around 1983 when I was training gymnastics, our trainer was performing resistance stretching and discussing eccentric loading with us. Later I learned Thai Massage, Barefoot Compression Massage, Deep Tissue, Myofascial Release, so it is exciting to see such modalities being put together for the benefit of sport.

With Tougher competition and better methods of detecting professional athletes' use of performance enhancing drugs, more attention is being focused on science-based training and the therapeutic effects of massage and other bodywork modalities to get that tiny edge which wins medals.

With escalating health care costs, and an aging American population, the fact that a baby boomer is winning medals in the Olympics will draw many athletes, as well as office workers, to massage therapy and bodywork. The good news is, that some of these treatments need not be done every day nor every week, and some techniques can be accomplished do-it-yourself, such as myofascial release using foam rollers, and simple active and passive stretching.

Perhaps 2 to 4 professional sessions per month is enough to make you perform better (in sports or at the computer), relieve pain, feel good and enjoy life more. To find certified bodyworkers near you, ask your doctor, physical therapist, or local massage school.

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