On track at the London 2012 Velodrome

Reflections and recommendations from a sports massage therapist

By Earle Abrahamson

Quite stunning is the architecture of the velodrome, nicknamed the “giant pringle” – stunning not only in terms of design but more importantly as a working environment. I was most fortunate to be invited to work as a sports massage therapist at the velodrome during the London 2012 Olympic Games. For me personally, sports massage embodies a way of life, a method of engaging with others to refine and develop better skills. During my duties at the velodrome I learned how to work within a multidisciplinary team by considering both the challenges and opportunities. What I quickly realised is that knowing one’s limits and being smart about therapeutic application tends to generate success within a pressurised working environment. I was positioned on the field of play (i.e. at the side of the track) and needed to appreciate and recognise the duties associated with this unique position. I quickly learned emergency care procedures and practised these with colleagues to perfect operations. At the Olympics, track side treatment becomes a focal point for the world media and incorrect procedures are often the difference between success and failure on a global scale.

I have many years of experience as a therapist but have rarely learned the cardinal work skills which are fundamental to our profession. I provided mentorship to many new therapists at the Games and found the experience to be refreshing and rewarding. My greatest teachers have been those I have taught and mentored.

The majority of courses tend to teach content in the absence of application yet it is the application and knowing how that generates respect within this unique field of practice. I have pondered the relationship between key anatomical components but yet tended to treat each in isolation. During my work at the Olympics I mastered the interrelationships between major joints, and worked with a diverse range of therapists and practitioners to consider mechanical advantages and potential injuries with incorrect biomechanical postures and positions. As a therapist, there is a need to share knowledge by exchanging ideas and developing a collective network of expertise.

Hands-on Training has been established to provide tuition and support across a broad range of industry relevant active learning programmes. We have taken the time to work with therapists and listen to their concerns. By working on major events and learning with colleagues, I now have a wealth of information that would be wasted if not shared with the therapy communities. Our new clinical workshops are designed to deal with working issues and update participants on cardinal principles and practices. Going for gold is more than simply crossing the finishing line first – it is about knowing how to be smart about training and using skills to surpass those of a colleague. It is about a continual cycle of learning and developing and knowing how, not necessarily what, to do in practice.

My take home message – Never lose track of your philosophy of practice and constantly strive to develop new ways of thinking and doing.

Earle Abrahamson and Jennie Parke Matheson invite you to join them for a series of individual clinical workshops. Earle was recently awarded the coveted ICNM prize for outstanding contribution to complementary medicine. He wishes to continue his work by sharing his Olympic and therapeutic experiences with the greater complementary medicine audiences.

Join our workshops and network by logging onto: Hands-on Training

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