Last night, on Channel 4’s Jon Snow’s Paralympics Show, (Monday 27th August 2012) they talked about how sports massage was a key part of an athlete’s life and how massage therapists were some of the busiest volunteers at the Games. It’s great to see sports massage being given some top notch visibility.
What was particularly interesting though, was the massage therapist they featured, Sue Kent, who specialises in genuine no hands massage. Because of the Thalidomide drug Sue has short arms so has developed fantastic techniques using her feet. On the show she massaged both 400m champion Iwan Thomas and triple jump champion Jonathan Edwards and, judging from their reactions, those techniques were very effective! Her feet were extremely dextrous and strong which, combined with Sue’s skill, provided a good powerful massage. Interestingly, she said that because she uses her legs (which are comparably stronger than arms and upper body) she probably doesn’t get as tired as quickly as most therapists. I can certainly see the advantages of this where large, muscular clients are concerned.
For more info on Sue and her massage practice, visit her website.
Incidentally, I often see massage courses being advertised which claim to offer ‘no hands massage’ as if it’s something new or unusual. In reality, apart from Sue – who’s probably the only practicing therapist of her kind in the UK – most sports massage therapists use no hands massage as a normal part of their approach. Depending on what’s needed, we will use elbows, forearms, shoulders, arms, fists and wrists as well as hands, thumbs and fingers. It all depends on what we are trying to achieve, the size and condition of the tissues being worked on – and even, to a certain extent, the size and strength of the therapist in relation to the client.