Over the winter I made out a gym programme for myself, a mixture of core, upper body and leg work. One particular night, I did dead lifts. It was a first for me. I was fine afterwards. Next morning I was stiff but the morning after I could barely walk and had great difficulty getting into the car. Having legs hanging together is not great for a cyclist. I needed help.
A friend of mine Ryan ‘Snowy’ Bradley, was our masseur with the Derry Minor team, so I gave a call. He quickly diagnosed that I had DOMS (Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness), which is effectively as the term outlines. The soreness doesn’t come immediately.
I got a session booked in with Ryan in Magherafelt (Escape Beauty Retreat). After a 40min deep tissue massage I headed home. Up next morning, my legs were totally cured. It was Lazarus-like.
I don’t think Ryan is claiming he can work miracles. He points out the benefits of the deep tissue massage. “It helps flush out the toxins and lactic acid built up during the exercise. It returns the muscles to a relaxed state. In addition it gives players/athletes a chance to relax after their event/game and gives them time to mentally recover.”
Last week I booked myself in again after a fairly tough schedule biking in the hills on so the legs needed a well deserved massage. They are after all what keeps the pedals going around, so I try to get in once a month to try and help keep the legs fresh.
The Coleraine senior football team are all the talk at the minute. The physical condition they have developed is noteworthy. It leaves them a very tough opponent for anyone. Ryan is the masseur for the Derry team and gave me an insight into the Coleraine mentality. “Every night, after county training, no matter how late it is, the Coleraine lads queue for a rub. They may get home late, but they see the massage a vital part of the training.“
I suppose it is no coincidence that they have transformed themselves into the effective unit that they now are. They are now the team that nobody wants to draw in the championship.
Ryan covers a range of sports, from footballers to cyclists and ironmen.
Also there are people just getting treatment for work related strains. “The football boys mainly concentrate on the legs, whereas golfers would come in for treatment on the back, neck and shoulders.”
Ryan also works with various clubs and also with the County Milk Cup Soccer team. “I have been working as masseur for about 8 or 9 years. I got into it as the girlfriend (now wife) then was doing massage as part of beauty therapy. I thought because I had a few injuries myself over the years that I could get in and do sports massage.”
“I did the first massage course with a private company in Belfast and then also partook in courses through the Northern Regional College. In addition I have also spent a couple of years training part-time with an Osteopath in Derry City.”
So from a man who could hardly get into the car at Fairhill Shopping Centre one day in Ballymena with a bad case of DOMS to someone who was cycled the next day, I saw the benefits of a sports massage. What would it not do for a professional athlete who is pushing themselves to the limit. I just remember the next time I decide to imitate Gerard Butler and his gruelling deadlift routine to ensure I have Snowy on speed-dial.