At CCMH, we have students who come from a wide range of backgrounds and various fields. Many find that Massage Therapy works in tandem with their passions and pursuits, just like Shaelyn, a CCMH grad who has experience as a competitive athlete in figure skating.
We’ve spoken to Shaelyn before about her journey from figure skater to massage therapist and what her experience was like attending CCMH. Shaelyn taught us how figure skating and Massage Therapy sync up so well, through dealing with and learning about injuries and soreness – these experiences have helped her gain expertise to advise and treat athletes.
We’re excited to share what Shaelyn told us about her experiences. Shaelyn tells us the most common injuries among Figure Skaters:
Figure skaters are prone to many injuries because it is such a physically demanding sport. It requires strength, endurance, flexibility, and grace. Some major injuries are:
Tendinitis: Typically tendinitis will occur at the achilles and most commonly is due to overuse. Jumps require strenuous amounts of flexion at the ankle joint to ensure maximum air time, and even though skates offer great support, sometimes it isn’t enough.
Compartment Syndrome: Compartment Syndrome is very common in figure skaters. The pressure applied on the deep compartment of the lower limb often causes malnourishment, decreased oxygen and numbness from nerve compression. Again, the common cause is overuse. Skaters will notice symptoms of Compartment Syndrome, or other forms of ‘Shin Splints’ when they begin to increase their training hours, usually at the beginning of their competitive season.
Concussion: Due to lack of protection during training, concussions are also very common, especially in pairs and singles events.
Femoral Acetabular Impingement: This injury is something that I have taken a particular interest to over the past few years. Since graduating, I have had three clients with this injury, as well as my father, who is actually undergoing a full hip replacement tomorrow.
The common figure in all of these people is that they were all either hockey players or figure skaters. I believe that for these cases, the cause was years and years of constant abduction (the skating motion.) It isn’t necessarily a ‘natural’ movement that the human body naturally would ever adapt to. Femoral Acetabular Impingement is a condition where the head of the femur actually will grow bone spurs and grind against the acetabulum and in serious cases, it will cause the acetabulum to degenerate. It is not necessarily a common injury, but very severe and often results in retirement of the athlete and surgery.”
Massage Therapy – A Useful Tool for Athletes?
Massage Therapy is an extremely beneficial non-medical approach to a variety of conditions. As an athlete myself, I understand the drive and dedication that one has to have in order to become successful at whatever it is they want to do.
Setbacks often arise from mental blocks or a physical injury. Massage Therapy is excellent for both of these situations as it is proven to decrease stress and anxiety, as well as change physical muscle tone. I have worked with a variety of athletes since graduating, such as: figure skaters, hockey players, dancers, swimmers, volleyball players, wrestlers, as well as those who enjoy going to the gym on a regular basis, and have all noticed an improvement with their performance.
Massage Therapy Can Improve Athletic Performance
Massage Therapy, along with physiotherapy definitely helped me achieve my goals. Unfortunately, I had a lot of injuries during my career, but I can definitely say that my health professionals made it bearable and allowed me to continue to keep moving forward. It was one thing to go to physiological/Massage every week, but knowing that my therapists cared so deeply to the point that they would text me during competitions was extremely heartwarming. I am the same way now with a few of my athletes, as it hits so close to home for me. There’s nothing that I love more than watching them succeed at what they’re most passionate about.”
Massage Routines For Figure Skaters
Regular maintenance would be my recommendation to figure skaters, as well as to anybody else in a high performance sport. Many people will wait to book appointments until they are injured, which is often before a competition, and usually due to a change up in routine as they are getting nervous for their big day, With regular monthly or biweekly checkups, athletes know that they have something to look forward to as far as getting rid of some of the pain, maintaining flexibility, movement and sometimes even strength depending on what their goals are. With a lot of my athletes, usually the older, more serious ones, I will sit down with them and look at their competitive season, see when their training peaks, and see where their competitions fall. From there we book appointments, and do everything that are can to prevent injuries.
For figure skaters (and hockey players) specifically, I have a dynamic warmup and cool down routine that I supply to them if they need a little extra guidance at home. I find that it works better than prescribing home care exercises. It puts them in their environment before and after their ice time, and allows them to warm up their muscles prior to getting on the ice, and allows them to gently bring their body back to its natural state, post practice/competition/game. Many athletes have noticed a huge benefit with this, and parents are generally really happy with this as well.
Advice to Athletes Who Don’t Take Care of their Bodies
START!!! If you are serious and passionate about your sport, then you should be doing everything in your power to give yourself the best opportunity to be successful. Working out at the gym to gain strength to improve your performance, is just as important as stretching your body after practice to prevent injury.
Sometimes, especially for the younger ones, it’s hard to explain this concept to them, as all they want to do is play their sport. It is super important to make sure that you are training in your sport, going for regular treatments, strengthening the muscles on a regular basis that you are using while doing your sport, stretching your muscles post activity, and allowing them to stay mobile and lengthened to prevent future injuries, and eating a well balanced diet of protein, fats, and carbs to give your body the proper energy that it needs to be successful in sport. I know that I stated this one last, but it is easily just as important as everything else!
If anyone has any questions about Massage Therapy and figure skating, please feel free to email me at [email protected].
Thanks to Shaelyn for sharing your insight with us!
Are you interested in a career as a Massage Therapist? Learn more about other students who found their path at CCMH by checking out our blog and following us on Facebook and Twitter. Want to share your story? Contact Susy at [email protected]