With the football season in full swing, many of us are spending a good portion of our free time watching grown men launch themselves through the air at one another in order to score touchdowns. It is a serious commitment as a fan to follow a team from beginning to end but think what it is like for the players. Each team in the NFL plays 16 games per season, not counting the playoffs, which means a ton of physical effort and violent contact on the part of the players that is bound to take a toll on their bodies and minds. Given how much we like to talk about the healing power of massage for athletes, we thought it would be interesting to take a look at how the NFL incorporates massage as a regular treatment type during this long and arduous season.
First of all, most NFL teams have a massage therapist on their staff. This individual is tasked with keeping up with each players’ physical well being whether it's helping them rehab an injury or getting stretched correctly before taking the field. A lot of this type of work is done on game day in the 2-3 hours before kickoff. During a game, the staff massage therapist is actually kept on the sideline as part of the medical team that will help to diagnose and quickly treat injuries as they come off the field. After games and on their own time, most NFL football players go on to receive additional massage therapy to help them get from game to tame and season to season. For example, a recent Forbes Online article described how NFL Linebacker, James Harrison, spends upwards of $500,000 every year on bodywork including massage and considers it a business expense due to the fact that it helps prepare his body for the job that he gets paid for.
Some of the most common ailments that a massage therapist will help treat an NFL football player for are lower back injuries, dislocated shoulders, knee injuries, and pain associated with tendonitis. More recently, massage therapists have even become involved in the treatment of athletic pubalgia, or more commonly known as a sports hernia. A sports hernia is an injury to the soft tissue in the pubic bone caused by a hip extension which can happen quite often, especially with running backs and wide receivers during hard tackles. Massage therapists help athletes suffering from a sports hernia by applying a gentle massage to the pelvic area to relieve tension and to help realign any muscle imbalances in that region that may be exacerbating the problem.
These are obviously not the types of aches and pains that most of us suffer from on a daily basis nor do the majority of us use our bodies as projectiles to earn our paychecks. Nevertheless, maybe NFL football players are onto something in their pretty whole hearted acceptance of massage therapy. Just because we do not get tackled for a living does not mean that we do not face other work related ailments both physical and mental that, albeit less exciting, could still benefit from the attention of massage therapy. Spending half a million dollars a year on it is not something that we recommend for our average clients but consider getting into the NFL football players mindset and think of your body as an essential tool in your ability to get your job done. When you switch on that type of thinking, massage goes from being a luxury item enjoyed only on vacation to a regular part of your health care regimen and an investment in your long term ability to be happy, healthy, and productive.