Olympic Athletes: Injury Recovery and Prevention
Tyler Nicholson’s Story and Miraculous Recovery
At the 2017 Aspen X games, 21 year old Canadian Pro Snowboarder, Tyler Nicholson took Silver in Slopestyle. 3 months later, in Italy, he tore his ACL in his knee. He miraculously returned to competition only 8 months later and was nominated to represent Canada in the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Amazingly, within just a few short months of returning to practice, Tyler was able to compete in both the Big Air and Slopestyle competitions in S. Korea. He placed 7th in the world. While this athlete did heal faster than most, he also put in a lot of hard work, determination and received professional help from Official Canadian doctors and trainers and a sports massage therapist based in Boulder, CO.
How Long For This Injury To Recover Fully?
One of the most common questions I hear as a therapist is, “how long is this injury going to take to recover fully?” For an ACL, usual time may be about a year, maybe more. But in Tyler’s case, it’s record breaking. When I worked with him, only 4 months after his surgery, he was already doing 1 leg pistol squats. I was amazed. I worked with the US Military for a decade and never saw anyone recover that fast. But Tyler still had compensation areas that tightened up daily.
Tyler requested that we continue the work we had began before his injury to keep him mobile, yet stable and strong. Compensation patterns are a huge problem after an injury. Sports massage helps to reduce scarred and tight tissue in the body, decreasing the pulls of fascial compensations. This helps to increase circulation around the injured area so it heals faster while aligning joints. Stretching helps to keep areas flexible and agile. Full recovery depends on several factors such as strengthening and nutrition.
How Much Massage Therapy is Needed to Heal?
Another question is, “how often or how many hours of body work will it take?” This is key, it’s not just the amount of hours but also the timing. When an athlete is healthy it’s important to look at the whole season and plan pre/ post massage accordingly for best chance at injury prevention. Athletes should begin body work as soon as they begin their training, which is a much younger age than we typically think.
Some of the riders are becoming pro at 14 now. It’s important to keep aligned and reduce or eliminate compensation patterns. When I work with Tyler, we usually do 2-3 hour sessions. This also is not typical thinking, as we are accustomed to the 1 hour or possibly 90 minute sessions. There is no set number of hours per say that is the magic number, but often enough and strong enough is my philosophy.
When I worked with Tyler this summer at his home in Whistler, B.C., we had 3 days in a row of 3 hours and at the X games 2017 and 2018, it was 2 days of a total of 5 hours each. If you have never had a 2 or 3 hour appointment, you really should try it. Sports massage involves deep work and deep or resistive stretching. It doesn’t always “feel good” either, but totally worth it. Tyler often calls his massages “wicked body work” in a good, young, slang, hip way.
Massage Therapy Treatments for the Hips
Speaking of hips, snowboarding has an unusual stance. A rider’s hips are not symmetrical on the board. Over time, this and the fact that the ankles are locked in can cause a hip misalignment, which can contribute to knee issues. The most common injury in snowboarding is an ACL tear.
Having a background in Sports and exercise science and being a personal trainer and a massage therapist, I am passionate about helping athletes fully recover. With help of my mentors, David Abookire, from Boulder Therapeutics and Chris Knott, in Colorado Springs, I have created a 5 hour program for snowboarders, skiers and anyone who wants to align strengthen and keep agile their lower body, hips/knees and ankles. This program focuses on the sacro-iliac joint (SI joint), a joint not well understood or addressed by either athletes themselves, trainers or many therapists. This is why it’s important to have a professionally trained and educated therapist and trainer.
Sports Massage for Olympic and Professional Athletes
Sports massage for Olympic and Pro athletes involves much more focus, and we bring that skill set to all of our athletes. We develop a rapport, discuss training protocols and make sure that what we do is helpful and timely for each sport. Would you like to be treated like a pro athlete? Contact our office or book a Sports Massage or treatment protocol with me or any of our therapists at Boulder Therapeutics. It is our goal to foster the best care for all and to continue to work with athletes throughout their career. Remember, one does not need to be a professional athlete to get the same level of care. Let us know how we can support you!