This Christmas Eve I had the opportunity to work on NFL players from the Oakland Raiders before their Christmas Day game versus the Philadelphia Eagles in Philadelphia, PA. It was a amazing experience, and I must thank Drew Welch, owner of Performance Stretch Therapy, for making it possible.
Since my professional work as a licensed massage therapist and certified fascial stretch specialist focuses on working with various types of athletes such as high schoolers, weekend warriors, collegiate athletes, and CrossFit firebreathers, treating the Oakland Raiders was a great way to gain insights into the needs and demands of professional athletes.
The Oakland Raiders’ treatment sessions were designed to enhance sports performance for their upcoming game using sports massage therapy and fascial stretch therapy. While sports massage therapy is common, fascial stretch therapy is a new treatment method being used by many top professional athletes to reduce wear and tear during training for better performance. A notable use of Fascial Stretch Therapy was to prepare all of the Carolina Panthers starters for the 2016 Superbowl. Every starter used fascial stretch therapy the entire season as their main form of injury prevention and workout recovery.
Just like the Oakland Raiders and Carolina Panthers who used fascial stretch therapy, I use this technique with almost every client, whether they need injury rehab or workout recovery. Not only does fascial stretch therapy have the ability to quickly restore flexibility, when combined with corrective exercises, it helps athletes regain awareness of their body to prevent injuries and develop their athletic ability beyond they thought was possible.
When working on the Oakland Raiders on Christmas Eve, the first thing I noticed about all the players I worked on was the muscular balance throughout their bodies: it was phenomenal. Unfortunately, most everyday athletes have blatant muscular imbalances, such as the relationship between the quads, hamstrings, and glutes (a leading cause of low back pain and other lower body issues). However, every Oakland Raider I treated was almost perfectly balanced between these usually problematic areas.
Instead of treating injuries, the goal of NFL players’ sessions using sports massage therapy and fascial stretch therapy focused on eliminating minute differences in tightness between muscle groups that could negatively affect the players’ quality on the field. Every little bit of improvement was exploited. For the general active population, however, these differences are much more noticeable, and treatment for this tension is more along the lines of injury prevention.
The NFL and other professional sports leagues have known for decades about the benefits of injury prevention treatments, both in the form of bodywork and corrective exercise. The need to perform at such a high level of athleticism has been the catalyst for incredible innovations in recovery and training methods. Sports massage therapy and fascial stretch therapy are two techniques at the forefront of recovery, changing what we consider possible for the human body accomplish.