write something for our site? Stories of your experiences, or advice on
injuries. Not just squash but all sports. Keep it informal and chatty”.
Well, I could say it’s all very well having the fanciest sports shoes in
the world, but what is the point if you don’t tie your shoelaces properly!
– okay, so who am I to tell you how to tie your laces? I am a natural
therapist who has worked in sport for the last 25 years with juniors,
seniors and veterans of all standards.
I’m happy to pass on advice to juniors, but for seniors this needs to be
more specific to the individual. It’s easy to roll out a few one liners –
“Prevention is the best form of cure”, “Accidents happen”, “Take the wrong
advice and you are history”, “Sport is beautiful when you’re fresh and on
top of the world”.
PROS OUT OF CONDITION
I once thought that professional athletes would be in great condition and
that my job would be to help keep them that way – well I was wrong. It was
a few years before I found myself working for an athlete in perfect
condition, he’d been allowed to develop properly, his potential had been
nurtured and protected, he went on to become a great champion many times
over. Now after a great career, he’s retired and still has the physical
potential to enjoy life after sport.
Since then I’ve worked for other champions who have been in great
condition and were constantly able to achieve their world class potential,
the common denominator being that they were protected as juniors, none
were allowed to overdo anything or specialize in their chosen sport before
the age of sixteen. The trouble is not all of us have an ex-professional
sports star as a relative to guide us. Very few of our athletes have that
privilege. The result being that many competitors are riddled with
injuries, complicated strains, accumulations of wear and tear, failed
operations, strapped limbs or joints, supports for this and that – you
I should be grateful, I’ve made a career out of these guys. In the
beginning some came to see me thinking that a massage might be less boring
than sitting under a heat lamp or having ultra sound. Relaxation is the
secret of all healing, in addition a good therapist can feel the state of
health of many muscles and can discern between cause and effect and so
direct treatment of a beneficial nature. Then people start recommending
you and before you know it you’ve got burnt out athletes in need of
rehabilitation coming to see you. You can bet your life that anyone in
this category has been round the world seeking help and advice from all
WHATEVER YOU DO ...
DO NOT COMPETE WHEN INJURED
Athletes should realize the importance of not competing if you’re ill or
injured, the more you ignore that rule the bigger the hole you dig for
yourself until eventually someone will fill the hole with you in it. Don’t
laugh, your friends and relatives won’t be laughing. One problem is that
there are “experts”
who will tell you that it’s okay to play on if you buy a support from them
or worse still suggest an operation. The stories I could tell you – I
don’t want to be sued but I’ll tell you one.
In the 80’s, I was working at Wembley Stadium for the All England
Badminton Championships, I had been working in badminton for a few years
and was known and accepted by most of the players but not at that point by
all of the establishment. One of the squad I was working for managed to
get me an official pass but we were not given permission to set up a
treatment room – none of the teams were allowed to. The other competing
nations had their therapists and masseurs in their hotel next door but
most of the English players were travelling in daily from their or their
friends homes. The one place where the officials would never visit was the
“ladies changing rooms” – so we stuck a “Private” sign on one of the rooms
and set up for the week! The following year I was invited to treat the
Olympic Squad and the rest “Officially” in their designated changing areas
(Wembley had been refurbished).
Anyway, I was introduced to a chap described to me as “The McEnroe of
Badders”, who’d been beating world champions whilst in his teens but when
I met him he hadn’t played for a couple of years due to injury. It was the
middle of summer and he was wearing a large overcoat to hide his crippled
form and involuntary spasms. It took a couple of years to rehabilitate
him. He did play again although never to his previous level.
Before his lay off he’d had injured his left ankle and someone recommended
a great physio. This man videoed him on a walking machine and told him he
had flat feet, gave him some orthotics to insert into his shoes and said
he could carry on playing.
Unfortunately, he did not diagnose a ruptured Achilles tendon and by
playing on with such an injury certainly helped to almost cripple this
chap. (I don’t care if I get sued, we should all take responsibility for
our actions. If this physio, who remains nameless, wants the world to know
what he has done, come and get me – he’s not the only one). Last year I
saw a twelve year old tennis player who had been given orthotics and had
been using then for a year. She too had a ruptured Achilles tendon which
had scar tissue at least a year old.
ATTENTION TO DETAIL
There are no short cuts to success. You have to pay attention to every
detail, be meticulous in preparing your schedules, making allowances for
recovery time after arduous events. If you do have an injury make sure you
recover before exerting yourself and if you do seek assistance from
someone, please give them your full history, it is all important.
Last year a squash player from my local club came to see me, he’d been
wearing a knee brace for some time and it hadn’t cured his knee, in fact
it had become so bad that he had no choice but to give up squash or see
I’d asked him for his history but apart from his knees he really didn’t
tell me much more. I always give a full examination so that I can make a
proper assessment. It’s no good me treating knee if a person’s back or
spine has seized up, if I find no other stresses or stains then we can
start sorting out the knee problem.
When I examined this chap he wasn’t in too bad a shape, he had good
conditioning and apart from his knee and the obvious strain and effect
that had had upon his lower back, he looked as though he was probably
quite a good athlete – apart from one thing. In his neck two of his
vertebrae seemed to be fused together and in quite a sorry state.
When I questioned him about his neck he did say that his head had been in
a smash a couple of years previously, when he came to his forehead was
covered in blood - this was attended to, but the real point of impact, his
neck, had not been treated. I gave him the name of an excellent cranial
osteopath and told him to make an appointment, go through any treatment
recommended and then throw away the knee brace before playing squash
again. He did that and he is now playing again without support.
All in a day’s work for a massage therapist!