Why Sports Massage?
It all started with a dream when I was 12 years old. It was a dream of working with Professional and Olympic athletes. I grew up as a competitive swimmer; my coach brought in a Sports Massage Therapist to work on all the athletes before one of our major swim meets. I was able to swim some of my fastest times of the season that meet after having my muscles worked on leading up to the weekend. I decided then and there that helping athletes to achieve their goals would be a life long focus.
Attending the Ohio College of Massotherapy in Medina, Ohio in 1998, I was able to study under Doug Nelson, founder of Precision Neuromuscular Therapy Midwest in Chicago, IL. PMNT is a research facility. The clinic specializes in problem solving. Doug Nelson as been extremely instrumental in developing the foundation of the way that I develop programs for Hands On Sports Massage clients and athletes. Due to the knowledge gained by working with Doug and over 15 years of personal experience working with athletes, I'm able to development treatment and prevention programs that are designed for each individual athlete.
After completing college, I decided the education I gained was a great starting point, but it wasn't nearly enough for what I wanted to do with athletes. After much research on Sports Massage education, I narrowed down my search to colleges that offered training at the highest level at that time. One was in Dublin, Ireland; the other was Costa Mesa, CA. After more research, I decided on Costa Mesa. The founder of SMTI (Sports Massage Therapy Institute) Dr. Myk Hungerford in CA was internationally acclaimed. She brought Sports Massage Therapy to the Olympics in 1984 for the Team USA, she was also the therapist that took care of President John F, Kennedy and his wife Jackie while the were at the White House. SMTI was the perfect choice. Dr. Hungerford pushed me hard, and demanded nothing short of excellence. I was blessed to take one of her last courses that she taught at the age of 84. This woman was a talented teacher and therapist. I feel blessed that I was able to study under her tutelage. She passed away in December of 2008, she may be gone, but her practices and ways of going about problem solving and treating the athlete body will continue through me and Hands On.
Journey to Des Moines and into the world of Triathlon:
I moved here beginning of 2003. On the plane from Costa Mesa to DSM, I met a triathlete on the flight. This athlete suggested I try a sprint triathlon that spring. Growing up as a competitive swimmer seemed like a great next step! I knew I could kill it in the water; I had strong legs from training horses for years, just needed to find my run. At the time, there were just a handful of athletes that belonged to the CIMC (Central Iowa Multisport Club); the club is now known as the Des Moines Triathlon Club. After my first sprint in Clearlake, Iowa, I was hooked on the sport. Since then, I've competed in too many events to count. There are many wins, many not so great races. I've completed Sprint to Ironman and the distances in-between. With every injury, win and loss, I learned more and more about the way the human body responded to stress, training, recover and most importantly prevention of injuries....all the data was there, brewing in my mind and helping me to develop plans for all the athletes that come to Hands On for Sports Therapy.
Due to my involvement in the sport of Triathlon, I was approached by the Hy-Vee Triathlon committee. They asked if I would but together a team of massage therapists for the now world renowned and largest prize purse event each year hosted in Des Moines. For several years, I was joined by many talented therapists across our state taking care of not only the professional athletes at each event, but also the several thousand amateur athletes that would cross the finish line each race. Events of that caliber are amazing, fun, stressful, but most of all, they are each great tools of education. With every athlete I treat, I learn more about muscle response time and biomechanical patterns. The education will never stop, that's one of the many things I love about the human body.
The joy of baseball:
When I first moved here in 2003, I was able to connect with Jeff Lantz. At the time he was the marketing manager for the AAA Iowa Cubs baseball team the farm team for major league Chicago Cubs. He put me in touch with their athletic trainer. Very quickly I found myself in the midst of all these amazing athletes. I've been taking care of this group of athletes now every year since 2003. It's amazing to see the guys go up to Chicago, to help them on their journey of playing for the big leagues. Not just the Major Leagues, but also to help them with individual feats that impact their lives and help them achieve individual goals. I had one athlete years ago from the Dominican; he was nearing the end of his career. He had never had sports therapy done before and was afraid to try it. We went through a little bit of the season, he would ask questions, but it took him a while before he finally said, ok, let's give this a go. The next week after treating his shoulder and increasing mobility, he asked me if he could sign a baseball for me. (He didn't have great English, and my Spanish wasn't great) He had one of his buddies translate for him; he was so excited, he said he was throwing so much better. Then to my utter joy, when he was done writing on the baseball, he had signed his name which I thought, yeah, that's cool- (although I'm not big on getting athlete's autographs), but what he wrote in addition to his name was his previous velocity which was 85, and his new velocity since getting Sports Massage work done, which was now 92mph. The joy that he had was so exciting. He'd never thrown that fast in his life. He was going out of his last year as a professional baseball player into retirement a happy man. I still have that baseball framed in my office. It is a reminder to me that sometimes some of the smallest of details can reap the greatest rewards. His baseball helps me stay grounded and I see it every day.
Dream into Reality:
My dream began when I was 12. To help athletes achieve their goals. I find that I'm constantly drawn to everything that revolves around that core goal. I think for my whole life, I will be fascinated and want to understand the human body and all that it's capable of achieving. Not just the body as muscles, but what fuel does, the role the gray matter of our brain plays into those achievements.
We must never stop learning...to stop learning will be to stop living.